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Narratives in decision aids: A controversy 

Narratives in decision aids: A controversy
Chapter:
Narratives in decision aids: A controversy
Author(s):

Victoria A. Shaffer

, and Brian J. Zikmund-Fisher

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198806660.003.0020
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date: 27 July 2021

This chapter maintains that while narratives should be used carefully in health communication, arguments in favour of their use outweigh concerns. The use of narratives in patient decision aids is controversial because of their persuasive power, ability to bias medical decisions, and tendency to proliferate the spread of misinformation. However, this chapter argues that: 1) didactic and statistical information alone are not enough to combat major public health issues; 2) narratives are also an important way that people make sense of data; and 3) narratives provide important contextual information that is essential for decision making. This chapter provides a blueprint for how narratives should be used in public health communications and discusses which narratives would be most efficacious. Finally, this chapter makes the case for a new, integrative model that respects the complementary roles of both data and narrative communications in the design of health communications.

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