Narrative Interventions in the Palliative Care Setting: A Scoping Review

Thomas Laskow, Lauren Small, David S. Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Context: This scoping review maps the existing literature on narrative interventions within a palliative care and end-of-life context. Objectives: A scoping review was performed to address the following research question: What observational or randomized controlled trials have been performed to evaluate narrative interventions in the palliative care setting? Methods: A search across multiple electronic databases was performed. The search results were screened. Relevant articles were reviewed for the identification of common themes and challenges. Results: After reviewing 495 citations from electronic searches, and 44 articles from author archives or from manual review of article reference lists, we identified 34 articles for inclusion. Narrative interventions have focused on reflection or communication, and have been studied among providers, students, patients, and caregivers. Only patient/caregiver studies used randomized controlled design. Most studies were small and at the level of evaluating feasibility. Challenges include a high degree of heterogeneity among interventions and heterogeneity among parameters for evaluating those interventions. Conclusion: Narrative interventions are actively being evaluated with the intention of improving communication and well-being among all parties within the palliative care and end-of-life experience. The field would benefit from selecting a subset of outcomes that are comparable across studies, and a common framework for describing narrative interventions. Scant literature exists regarding narrative interventions to assist providers in communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)696-706
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2019


  • Narrative medicine
  • communication
  • medical humanism
  • palliative care
  • reflection
  • storytelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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