Moving from the margins- the role of narrative and metaphor in health literacy

Talley, Janine (2014). Moving from the margins- the role of narrative and metaphor in health literacy. In: 3rd Annual National Health Literacy Research Conference, 20 Jun 2014, Keele.


The idea: Narrative and metaphor have traditionally been viewed as merely linguistic tools employed in the communication of ideas. They are mentioned in, but not central to, the discourse of health literacy e.g Zarcadoolas, Pleasant and Greer (2006). As a result of recent work in areas such as cognitive linguistics however, narrative and metaphor have been recognised as having more fundamental roles, in our thinking and engagement with the world. Narrative and metaphor are argued to be central to how we think, make sense of the world and communicate individually and collectively (Hanne, 2011). This includes our thinking and engagement in relation to health, wellbeing and illness. This aim of this poster therefore, is to explore the implications of this more central role of narrative and metaphor in relation to health literacy, including implications for practice. The presentation offers a step in progressing this area of exploration by making connections between theory and practice and reinforcing the need to consider the role of both devices in association. The multidimentional theoretical framework for health literacy proposed by Zarcadoolas et al, 2006 is used as a framework for connecting ideas and examples in the four areas of fundamental literacy, scientific literacy, civic literacy and cultural literacy. Relevance to health improvement activity in practice, from policy to one-to-one interventions will be central to the presentation. The work represents one element of the author’s ongoing scholarship and research interests.

Hanne, M. (2011) The binocular vision project: an introduction. Genre, Vol. 44, No.3. pp223-237.

Zarcadoolas, C., Pleasant, A. and Greer, D. (2006) Advancing health literacy – a framework for understanding and action. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. San Francisco.

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