Table 1

Characteristic criteria of public health issues used to select topics for full text review (four examples are provided; the criteria used here will be applied to other public health issues found as part of the search and selection process)

Criteria (used to determine inclusion/exclusion of public health topic)Is there an individual, immediate cost but a long-term population gain? Issue involves an element of preventionIs there misunderstanding, misinformation or misperception associated with the issue?Is there a need to change knowledge, attitudes and behaviour associated with the issue?Which populations are most relevant to this issue? Potentially a ‘healthy’ population that may be involved in a preventative public health measureAre there publications on storytelling used as a research method for this issue?
Public health topic
Antimicrobial resistanceAvoid using antibiotics unnecessarily in immediate term to prevent population-level resistance developing in the long term. Might mean some personal cost of forgoing antibiotic and slightly longer illness in the short termThe nature of antimicrobial resistance eg, which diseases antibiotics treat, bacteria vs virus, or perceptions that personal actions will not have an impact on a global issue of this magnitude36 44 45Knowledge might be wrongly informed, attitudes formed through experiences, behaviours as a result of knowledge, attitudes or external circumstances36 44 45Antimicrobial resistance is a global problem and applies universally; however, certain populations are more likely to use antibiotics.
Potentially parents and young children,46 47 or people with chronic diseases, e.g, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)44
HCPs44 (approximately 80% antibiotics are prescribed by primary care)
Limited, if any, peer-reviewed, published evidence of storytelling used as a research method in the context of this public health issue. Only blog posts, news articles, short reports from charities, not-for-profit organisations,
Cancer screening and preventionScreening may be considered unpleasant, unwanted or problematic on a personal level in the immediate term but is preventatively beneficial at a population level in the long term, eg, reducing levels of cancer across population due to early detection and treatment8 48Misinformation and misperceptions about false positives; perceived risk and fear; dislike/discomfort with screening and/or biopsy procedures; doubts about self-efficacy (of performing self-administered screening test can inhibit screening uptake…49 50Misinformation may lead to incorrect knowledge, misinformed attitude and consequently behaviour. More nuanced understanding of these factors via storytelling research might contribute to change49 50Mainly adults who meet ‘at-risk’ criteria, eg, age bracket for colorectal or breast cancer screening. Special groups at high risk, eg, Alaska natives (2× rate CRC as US general population)17Some evidence of storytelling used as a research method in the context of this public health issue, eg, exploring barriers to screening uptake in CR48
VaccinationsVaccinate a child in the immediate term at personal cost of discomfort, inconvenience and mild sickness, possibly to prevent population-level disease and disease risk in the longer termMisinformation and misperceptions about risks associated with disease and with vaccination-related adverse effects, especially post-MMR/autism research in late 1990s)51
Storytelling interventions published in relation to understanding mother–daughter interactions/perceptions that contribute to HPV vaccination uptake52
The individual vaccinated might receive a vaccination for a disease that has very low prevalence and perceived risk can influence uptake of vaccine, as can negative media reporting, eg, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR)
anti-vaccine messaging through media—social media etc carefully controlled by site administrators53
Need to dispel misinformation and counter anti-vaccine groups. Stories to combat anti-vaccine misinformation are needed. Shelby and Ernst advocate using the anti-vaccine campaigners’ tactics of powerful stories to reverse vaccine hesitancy53
Awareness and knowledge of importance of vaccination, side effects and efficacy
Misinformation in media and hearsay, social media, word of mouth
Very strong examples of the power of storytelling leaving lasting impression: stories about childhood vaccinations causing sickness. Hepatitis B, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) (‘overnight autism’)53
Anti-vaccine messaging through media, including social media etc… can be carefully controlled by site administrators…53
The ability of anti-vaccine campaigners to decrease vaccine uptake through storytelling could be harnessed to steer uptake in a positive direction
General public: especially parents of young children
Subgroups documented in peer-reviewed literature, eg, Cambodian mother–daughter pairs. Healthcare professionals (HCPs)
Some evidence of storytelling used as a research method in the context of this public health issue20 52
Climate change and care of the natural environmentPersonal actions and cost in the immediate term, eg, recycling or walking rather than driving, buying local produce rather than goods that have travelled across the globe, will contribute to reducing climate change in the long term and improving health-related effects of climate change, eg, flooding, overheating and respiratory disease54Doubts, misunderstanding and inconsistencies exist about what can be done about climate change. There is also scepticism relating to doubts about the efficacy of action taken to address climate change54
Differentiation according to perceived costs seem to be appropriate to classify climate-friendly actions. People’s perception of climate change influences their level of concern, which ultimately affects their motivation to act55
Need to change motivation to act in a climate sparing way. UK public say they feel powerless, eg, the sentiment that individual actions made little difference. People in the UK perceive government as responsible for implementing climate change adaptation56
If people feel they cannot change a situation, they will very likely retreat into apathy and resignation and thus will be less likely to address environmental issues55
Published storytelling research within the context of climate change, to date, has applied to specialist populations, eg, Inuits—northern Canada57 58
Inupiat people, Alaska59
Some published storytelling research, eg, community participatory multimedia storytelling after week-long workshop to engage in project design, data extraction to explore climate-health relationships57
e.g. traditional storytelling of Inupuit community, Alaska59
Production of 3–5 min digital audio-visual stories on effects of climate change in students’ countries18