Journal Watch – 11 November 2016

Grief, anger, and relationality: The impact of a research-based theater intervention on emotion work practices in brain injury rehabilitation

Authors: Kontos P et al.

Summary: This Canadian evaluation study investigated the impact on neurorehabilitation practitioners of a research-based theatre intervention, a one-hour play titled, “After the Crash” (full details about the development of the play can be found in Colantonio A et al. After the Crash: A Research-based Theatre Approach for Knowledge Translation on Traumatic Brain Injury. J Continuing Education in the Health Professions 2008;28:1-6). The study focuses on therapeutic emotion work and client centred rehabilitation following TBI using research-based theatre. Theatre contributes significantly to medical education because its emotional quality makes it difficult for participants and audiences to avoid or intellectualise the struggles being portrayed. The analysis of audience responses to the play took place over three years from 2008-2011. Participants were recruited from nursing, psychology, allied health, recreational therapy, and chaplaincy. The play was developed from focus groups with survivors of TBI, their families, and health care practitioners. It portrays the complexity of TBI rehabilitation using concepts such as access to information, goal-setting, and reintegration strategies. It was intended to help the audience identify with the characters and develop empathy.

Comment: Although empirical evidence supports the effectiveness of research-based drama for learning about illness and humane patient care in various clinical areas, it is used with surprising infrequency in educational interventions to improve the quality of rehabilitation. After the Crash had little impact on the empathy felt by staff, but was particularly effective at improving staffs’ responses to issues involving relationality. The authors suggest the dramatic arts are well positioned to improve the efficacy of therapeutic emotion work after TBI, but also to build cultures of best practice.

Reference: Evaluation Review 2014;38(1):29-67

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