Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 221–235

Narrative communication in cancer prevention and control: A framework to guide research and application

  • Matthew W. Kreuter
  • Melanie C. Green
  • Joseph N. Cappella
  • Michael D. Slater
  • Meg E. Wise
  • Doug Storey
  • Eddie M. Clark
  • Daniel J. O’Keefe
  • Deborah O. Erwin
  • Kathleen Holmes
  • Leslie J. Hinyard
  • Thomas Houston
  • Sabra Woolley
Article

DOI: 10.1007/BF02879904

Cite this article as:
Kreuter, M.W., Green, M.C., Cappella, J.N. et al. ann. behav. med. (2007) 33: 221. doi:10.1007/BF02879904

Abstract

Narrative forms of communication—including entertainment education, journalism, literature, testimonials, and storytelling—are emerging as important tools for cancer prevention and control. To stimulate critical thinking about the role of narrative in cancer communication and promote a more focused and systematic program of research to understand its effects, we propose a typology of narrative application in cancer control. We assert that narrative has four distinctive capabilities: overcoming resistance, facilitating information processing, providing surrogate social connections, and addressing emotional and existential issues. We further assert that different capabilities are applicable to different outcomes across the cancer control continuum (e.g., prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment, survivorship). This article describes the empirical evidence and theoretical rationale supporting propositions in the typology, identifies variables likely to moderate narrative effects, raises ethical issues to be addressed when using narrative communication in cancer prevention and control efforts, and discusses potential limitations of using narrative in this way. Future research needs based on these propositions are outlined and encouraged.

Copyright information

© The Society of Behavioral Medicine 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew W. Kreuter
    • 1
  • Melanie C. Green
    • 2
  • Joseph N. Cappella
    • 3
  • Michael D. Slater
    • 4
  • Meg E. Wise
    • 5
  • Doug Storey
    • 6
  • Eddie M. Clark
    • 7
  • Daniel J. O’Keefe
    • 8
  • Deborah O. Erwin
    • 9
  • Kathleen Holmes
    • 1
  • Leslie J. Hinyard
    • 1
  • Thomas Houston
    • 10
    • 11
  • Sabra Woolley
    • 12
  1. 1.Health Communication Research Laboratory, Department of Community HealthSchool of Public Health, Saint Louis UniversitySt. Louis
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of North CarolinaChapel Hill
  3. 3.Annenberg School for Communication and Abrams Cancer CenterUniversity of PennsylvaniaUSA
  4. 4.School of CommunicationOhio State UniversityUSA
  5. 5.Center for Health Systems Research & AnalysisUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonUSA
  6. 6.Center for Communication ProgramsBloomberg School of Public Health Johns Hopkins UniversityUSA
  7. 7.Department of PsychologySaint Louis UniversityUSA
  8. 8.Department of Communication StudiesNorthwestern UniversityUSA
  9. 9.Division of Cancer Prevention and Population SciencesRoswell Park Cancer InstituteUSA
  10. 10.Center for Outcomes and Effectiveness Research and EducationUniversity of AlabamaBirmingham
  11. 11.Deep South Center on Effectiveness ResearchVeteran’s Affairs Medical CenterBirmingham
  12. 12.Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch, Division of Cancer Control and Population SciencesNational Cancer InstituteUSA