Creating Stories From Parents' Premature Birth Experiences to Engender Empathy in Nursing Students
Introduction: In healthcare, stories are an evocative way to educate nurses about the emotional experiences of patients. Little is known however, about the impact of storytelling in neonatal nursing practice and education. Aims: The aims were; to explore how parents of premature babies described their neonatal care experience; to develop digital stories informed by their narratives and to investigate how these may contribute to empathic learning in nursing students/staff. Methods: Within an interpretive, narrative design using principles from constructivism, twenty narrative interviews with parents of premature babies were undertaken to collect their stories. Core story creation reconfigured the raw narratives to develop digital stories using the ASPIRE model. Thematic and metaphor analysis were also applied. Finally, a mixed methods approach investigated the perceived value of the stories for empathic learning with nursing students and staff in neonatal care. Findings: Parents described their experience using a strong emotional narrative revealing important learning points for those caring for them. The use of metaphors was a common way to express emotion. Frequent metaphor clusters provided pivotal themes for the creation of digital stories. Four key themes emerged from the analysis: namely, the effect of digital stories on emotion and empathy, the perceived value of digital stories for learning and knowledge acquisition, the potential impact of digital stories on practice and the format of digital stories for representing emotion and evoking empathy. Overall, student nurses and staff evaluated the digital stories positively. It was clear that they were an effective way to teach others about emotional experiences of parents and had the potential to enhance empathy. Many participants indicated that stories may influence their practice by enhancing understanding of the emotional needs of parents. Discussion: Digital stories appear to be an effective and evocative way of telling the stories of others and depicting their emotional experience from which we can learn. Emotions can be a source of knowledge, and digital stories representing the parents’ experience and emotions may enrich empathic learning. Conclusion: Value is placed on parent stories by students and staff in relation to enhancing empathic learning within the neonatal field. Digital stories can be one way of teaching emotional aspects of care that places the parents at the centre.
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