Unconditional Stories – A visual exploration on the impact of illness and injury on one’s day to day living and quality of life experiences

Ms Tracey Beck1, Dr Tien Khoo1,2,3

1Northern NSW Local Health District, Australia, 2Griffith University Australia, Australia, 3University of Wollongong, Australia

Unconditional Stories is a collaborative cross disciplinary study undertaken via a narrative medicine and narrative art approach to enhance health literacy and awareness in the wider community. The study explored the empathetic connection between art and storytelling as a viable means of improving the way health related experiences are viewed and disseminated.

This mixed methods qualitative and quantitative study was conducted in 2020 and involved nine recently discharged patients and one carer from Ballina District Hospital (BDH) and ten Technical and Further Education (TAFE) Creative Design and Ideation students. Patients/carer were interviewed by TAFE students who subsequently transformed their stories into visual artwork that was exhibited at a local art gallery for 10 weeks. Consumers were engaged on each level of the study from storytelling to exhibition viewing. Pre- and post-participant surveys were administered to TAFE and patent/carer participants. Additional feedback from school students and gallery viewers were also obtained.

The Unconditional Stories study ignited a multigenerational community awareness and understanding of the impact that illness, injury and recovery can have on one’s day to day living and quality of life experiences. 31/32 (96%) of exhibition surveys responses revealed viewers had learnt something new about illness or injury and patient/carer experience. This study strengthened partnerships between BDH and the wider community.

Although a relatively small study, the impact has been significant in raising the potential to empower people of all ages with information that may improve their health and wellbeing.

This presentation will outline the study process, research methods and results.


Tracey Beck
Tracey Beck is the senior Diversional Therapist for the Northern NSW Local Health District at Ballina Hospital. Tracey has over 20 years of experience working as a Diversional Therapist in acute medical, brain injury and residential care services. Tracey has a specific interest in the areas of rehabilitation, acute geriatric medicine and arts in health. Tracey maintains a level one membership with Diversional & Recreational Therapy Australia.

Dr Tien K Khoo
Tien Khoo is a consultant physician in general (acute) medicine at Ballina District Hospital. His academic appointments include senior lecturer in medical education at Griffith University and clinical associate professor at University of Wollongong. He is currently involved with research in Parkinson’s disease, polypharmacy, frailty and art in medicine. In addition, he has an interest in interprofessional education (IPE) and was an IPE lead at Griffith University in 2012-2015. He is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh and a member of the Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons in Glasgow.

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