Can patients’ narratives in nursing enhance the healing process?

Janne Brammer Damsgaard*, Charlotte Simonÿ, Malene Missel, Malene Beck, Regner Birkelund

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Although there is a growing acknowledgement of the potential of a more nuanced healthcare paradigm and practice, the discourses of health promotion—and with that nursing and other healthcare professionals’ practice—still tend to focus on the medical diagnosis, disease and the rationale of biomedicine. There is a need for shifting to a human practice that draws on a broader perspective related to illness. This requires a transformation of practices which can be constructed within a narrative understanding. A narrative approach appreciates the importance of emotion and intersubjective relation in the telling and listening that occur in the clinical encounter. The essence of nursing lies in the creative imagination, the sensitive spirit and the intelligent understanding of the individuals’ possibilities of becoming empowered in his or her own life. This entails that the focus of the use of patients’ narratives is, ultimately, not the story itself, but the nurses’ and other healthcare professionals’ ability to support the patients in finding useful meaning in their stories. Herein, it is of particular importance to let the patients narrate about what is sparkling moments or events in the lived life. Stories with such focus can open up for patients’ hopes and dreams, which gives inspiration for finding meaningful ways to cope in life empowering personal recovery. It is, therefore, crucial to transform clinical settings into places that acknowledge the need for imagination and creativity, aiming at creating the opportunity for sensibility and vision essential to encouraging a narrative approach and thereby the ability to reflect upon and promote a healing process.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12356
JournalNursing Philosophy
Issue number3
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • creativity and aesthetics
  • healing processes
  • narrative
  • personal recovery
  • sensitivity
  • uses of literature


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