Narrative medicine is an interdisciplinary field that complements and expands on conventional healthcare training by supporting narrative competence skills and creativity derived from the arts and humanities domains to address the needs of healthcare providers and receivers. With the COVID-19 pandemic having had a profound impact on the healthcare workforce with an already high burn-out rate, multimodal arts interventions may help address the holistic dimensions of well-being. While empirical evidence supports the use of arts-based interventions in promoting healthcare workers’ well-being and personal growth, art prompts are underexplored and underused in narrative medicine. Moreover, protocols and frameworks adopted in extant research on this topic are inconsistent, resulting in replication and validation challenges. These issues have motivated this exploratory-descriptive study with 11 narrative medicine practitioners to examine the use of short art prompts in an online narrative medicine workshop.
The art prompts leveraged art therapy’s Expressive Therapies Continuum (ETC) model, which uses the inherent properties of art materials, media and methods to elicit specific levels of information processing and creative experiences. The study aimed to understand how art prompts differ from writing prompts and explore the value art prompts could add to narrative medicine if any. Qualitative analyses revealed that art prompts in narrative medicine increase positive feelings and promote creativity and insight. Specifically, art prompts allowed participants to use sensorimotor functions, enter a flow-like state, be challenged and inspired by novelty and uncertainty, and experience a sense of play and personal discovery.