Published: 20-10-2023 11:42 | Updated: 20-10-2023 13:03

New thesis explores the role of stories and narration in geriatric care

Hi Lisa Herulf Scholander, doctoral student at the Division of Occupational Therapy. On November 10 you will defend your thesis ”Narrative relations: resources for meaning-making and person-centred practices in geriatric care”. What is the main focus of the thesis?

Lisa Herulf Scholander, doctoral student at the Division of Occupational Therapy. Photo: Private.

The thesis explores the role of stories and narration in everyday practices of geriatric care. We already know that stories and narrative forms of reasoning play a powerful part in shaping and understanding human experiences and actions. Based on that, stories and narration have been suggested to be valuable resources when aiming to transform healthcare cultures towards socially sustainable and compassionate practices adapted to future needs of societies. There is limited research on how use of stories and storytelling may transpire in everyday healthcare practices and on how health professionals understand such practices from their experience-based point of view, especially in inpatient geriatric care. The thesis contributes with insights to fill this gap.

Which are the most important results?  

The findings imply that the role of narration in geriatric care is broader than often suggested when only focusing on listening to patient stories. The findings show how different people’s stories are intertwined and affecting each other. So if healthcare professionals should be able to truly make use of patient stories to reach a more holistic and compassionate understanding of patients’ situations, the professionals stories and narration are important to pay attention to. The thesis introduces the notion of ‘narrative relations’ for the ongoing and mutual narration between multiple people and shows how these kinds of practices often are invisible and undervalued while simultaneously being important to uphold relational qualities in care work. Such qualities included for instance building trustful relationships with patients and colleagues, upholding continuity, and enhancing collegial and interprofessional learning, affinity and support. 

How can this new knowledge contribute to the improvement of people’s health?  

When we want to change healthcare systems towards socially sustainable practices and healthful care cultures where healthcare professionals can thrive and be equipped to support the future health needs of people, it is important with profound understanding of conditions for how everyday care practices and cultures come about. The knowledge this thesis presents adds a piece to that puzzle. 

What’s in the future for you? Will you continue to conduct research? 

Except for some teaching, the future is still open, but I hope to continue working with developing knowledge and practice in one form or another, to advance understanding about socially sustainable healthcare cultures and practices that are meaningful to all people encountering the healthcare system.


Lisa Herulf Scholander Affiliated to Research;Research Coordinator