Narrative medicine practices as a potential therapeutic tool used by expatriate Ebola caregivers

Abstract: This study examined how expatriate healthcare providers used narrative methods to process their experiences of working with Ebola patients. Key informant interviews and associated media and blog posts were analysed using an inductive thematic approach. Open coding informed the creation of a codebook which, in turn, was the basis for axial coding and thematic development. A team of researchers collaborated in both coding and theme development in order to address potential subjectivity bias. In the results of 6.5 hours of interviews with 20 nurses, physicians and nurse practitioners, four themes surfaced regarding use of narrative methods: memorialising, advocacy, self-reflection, and camaraderie. Providers of narrative methods reported beneficial and therapeutic effects of writing and public speaking, as well as the therapeutic value of sharing narrative practices with other colleagues. Evidence in this context suggests narrative medicine practices may mitigate negative sequelae related to secondary traumatic stress.

Cunningham, Tim; Rosenthal, David; Catallozzi, Marina