Excerpts from a blog by pharmaphorum:
What can we learn from Batman and the Joker, the greatest hero/villain pairing of all time? Their co-dependent relationship has led to some incredible pieces of storytelling that continue to live long in the minds of their audience; because stories are one of the most powerful forms of communication. A story, when broken down into its simplest form, is a connection between cause and effect. Our decisions and behaviours are based on stories – the stories people tell themselves or the ones that others tell them. So how can we harness the power of storytelling to effectively communicate clinical data?
Clinical data is fundamental to clinicians’ medical education and clinical practice, and should be the starting point for evidence-based improvements in how patients are treated. However, communicating clinical data alone isn’t enough to change the behaviour of healthcare professionals (HCPs) because facts and figures may be easily retained by computers, but not by people.
If we are to have any success in bridging this gap between clinical data and clinical practice, we have to do more than just exchange information. Effective communication strategies should not only understand the challenges and the impact on the audience, but the solutions provided should also appeal to both hearts and minds or, to put it another way, to our behaviour.
Behavioural science demonstrates that provoking an emotional response will have a more persuasive effect than communicating logic and data alone; and being able to encapsulate an emotional narrative within a medical communications programme will help to accelerate behavioural change in clinicians that will ultimately benefit patients.
Stories help us relate, they allow us to empathise and enable our brains to process information in a form that is more digestible and memorable. Stories also provide the connections between simple facts. Research shows that when data are embedded in a story, it is more effectively emotionalised and metabolised by the listener – and it becomes more actionable.
A good story helps engage interest on an emotional level and subsequently encourages reflective thinking, providing the key stimulus for behaviour change.
For some people, crafting a story around the data may seem like an unnecessary time-consuming effort. They may feel that the facts should be sufficient to stand on their own as long as they’re reported in a clear manner, believing that this will influence the right decisions and drive their audience to act.
Determining how to communicate clinical data in peer-reviewed publications requires skilful judgement that strikes the right rational and emotional balance. Finding the right story in the data will require a ‘narrative process’, but the story can only ever be as good as the data on which it is based. For example, effectively communicating the burden of the disease and the real physical and emotional impact this has for the patient is vital for the emotional impact. However, to balance this important message the factual, quality-of-life data is a critical component of the story, particularly in today’s metric-centric world.
Storytelling has been shown to be a powerful approach for sharing data and ideas in a way that is memorable, persuasive and engaging. This is particularly important in a world where the volume of information is ever increasing, the needs of patients are increasingly complex and healthcare systems have undergone seismic shifts. The need for more effective communications that cut through the data to connect with HCPs on an emotional level has never been greater!
Read the full article here: https://pharmaphorum.com/views-and-analysis/art-storytelling-clinical-data-communication/