Story Telling

By telling stories, others can feel and empathize with the experiences of the characters.  Listeners or viewers can loose themselves in the life of the characters.

"narrative inquiry"

"Objective: Designers can and should play a critical role in shaping a holistic healthcare experience by creating empathetic design solutions that foster a culture of care for patients, families, and staff. Using narrative inquiry as a design tool, this case study shares strategies for promoting empathy.

Studies, Papers and Articles

Narrative Training as a Method to Promote Nursing Empathy Within a Pediatric Rehabilitation Setting


  • The study demonstrated positive impacts of arts-based narrative training for nurses.
  • Narrative training improved nursing collaboration and therapeutic relationships.
  • Narrative training is an innovative way to reduce adverse work-related outcomes.
  • “Moral empathic distress” was identified in this study and may be an emerging phenomenon in this nursing context.



Empathy is deemed essential to nursing, yet interventions that promote and sustain empathy in practicing nurses within healthcare organizations are limited. We tested the feasibility and perceived impact of an arts-based narrative training intervention involving pediatric rehabilitation nurses for the purpose of promoting nursing empathy.

Design and Methods

One-group qualitative repeated-measures design at an urban Canadian pediatric rehabilitation hospital. Eight nurse participants attended six 90-minute weekly group narrative training sessions and two in-depth interviews pre- and post-intervention.


The intervention positively impacted participants in three primary domains:

  1.  Empathy for Patients and Families, 
  2. Empathy Within Nursing Team, and 
  3. Empathy for the Self. 
Major findings included:
  •  increased value placed on patients' and families' backstory,
  • identification of “moral empathic distress” (MED), 
  • enhanced sense of collaborative nursing community, 
  • and renewal of professional purpose.


This study is the first of its kind conducted in the pediatric rehabilitation nursing context. Results indicate that arts-based narrative training enhances nursing empathy and contributes to a supportive nursing culture.

Practice Implications

In addition to enhancing empathy in clinical domains, nurses who participated in narrative training reported improved team collaboration, self-care practices, and renewed professional purpose. The results from the intervention are encouraging and future research needs to explore its utility in other settings with larger and more diverse sample.

In a Divided World, We Need to Choose Empathy

BY JAMIL ZAKI | MAY 29, 2019

"Storytelling. Where statistics fail to move us, stories succeed. They bring us into one person’s perspective, allow us to resonate with their joy and pain, and are steeped in humanity. In fact, even fictional stories help us to empathize with real people.  Evidence suggests that bookworms grow better at understanding others the more stories they eat through. Even small “doses” of fiction can make a difference, especially when they connect us with voices from cultures or groups we might not think or care about otherwise. "

Telling clinician and patient stories increases empathy in nurses
By Louise Kinross 
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
"A six-week narrative group for inpatient nurses at Holland Bloorview promoted greater empathy for patients and families, for each other, and for the nurses themselves, according to a study published in The Journal of Pediatric Nursing last month. 

I was a facilitator on this project, which was led by Keith Adamson, then collaborative practice leader at Holland Bloorview. The other facilitators were Andrea Charise (photo centre left), who directs an undergraduate health humanities program at the University of Toronto, and Shelley Wall, a medical illustrator and assistant professor in Biomedical Communications at U of T. Sonia Sengsavang (photo right), a PhD candidate in developmental psychology, was research assistant and Michelle Balkaran (left), a nurse and now an interim operations manager here, was part of the research team."