In research supported by the National Cancer Institute, researchers measured the effect of a storytelling interview plus online resources on more than 40 people diagnosed with stage 3 or 4 cancer. The interview covered topics including important accomplishments and difficulties overcome, the effects of their cancer on them and their family, and how they’d like to be remembered in 20 or 30 years.
A standard survey used to measure the wellbeing of the chronically ill was given four months after the storytelling process. The storytelling interview participants felt far more at peace and experienced less depression than their counterparts who had access only to the online support resources.
“What most people wanted to be remembered for was how they treated others,” says University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher Meg Wise. “They told us about adventures and very personal moments and triumphs. They addressed a lot of it to their families.”