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Chapter 5

📘Story collection preparation

📃 Develop a story collection template based on your approved plan. A template should contain the following elements, but tailor to your situation. 

  • Overview of the project
  • Point of contact for project
  • Benefits and risks of participating
  • Expectations for storyteller
  • Name of storyteller
  • Location of storyteller
  • Storyteller phone number
  • Storyteller e-mail address

Note: You may not need to collect personally identifiable information from a storyteller, but it can help to double check if there are any questions or follow-up needed after their story submission, or so you can share the project results with the people who contributed to the project. Additionally, some projects may choose to solicit stories that will become public and the storyteller agrees to have their name and/or location associated with their story.

  • Story title
  • Story (provide a prompt that focuses on understanding a perspective, a reaction or change related to health topic and information environment). 
    • Potential storytelling prompts that focus on capturing change or impact may include (choose and tailor one or several for template):
      • Can you tell us about a time when you experienced…?
      • How did recent discussions and information about [health topic] affect you?
      • What happened recently that affected how you perceive [health topic]?
      • How did you feel when [public health event] happened? What did you do next?
      • How did the information environment change for you as [public health event] happened?
      • When [public health event] happened, how did you look for information on [health topic] ?
      • How did you feel and respond when [health topic] became a challenge in your life?
      • What were some of the positive or negative impacts you experienced around [health topic]?
      • What change have you seen in relation to [public health event] and how it affected you?
      • Whom do you trust most when it comes to health information? 
      • When [public health event] happened, where did you look for information on [health topic] ?
      • Can you remember when you made a [decision] about [public health event/topic] ? What were your feelings and how did you come to that conclusion?
  • Informed consent statement (which needs to be signed)

🏘️ Identify the spaces (online and/or offline) where your population of focus spends time and from which you may collect stories. Then determine the most appropriate way to reach participants. Choose where to collect stories in three ways:

  1. Location-specific: If the people you want to collect stories from are specific to a place (e.g., neighborhood, local health department, district), you can go to the places they frequent and speak to venue owners or organizational leadership about collaborating to collect stories.
  2. Interest-specific: Look for interest-based groups (e.g., member-based associations, sporting clubs, subreddits, specific online communities) and approach them to collaborate on story collection from their membership.
  3. Sector-specific: Look for organizations that include and represent people who may contribute stories (e.g., professional associations, faith coalitions, academia, business coalitions, health systems, media outlets, civil society organizations) and approach them to collaborate on story collection from their membership.

🎯 Choose a target number of stories to collect. We suggest a minimum of 30 to allow for wider representation of stories and to have enough stories in focus groups to discuss and whittle down to a handful of representative experiences. However, you should increase the number if you have a very broad health topic, a very large population to include or more available resources.

🪂 Choose how to collect stories in three ways:

  1. Ask people to write down their stories and submit them (in person or online)
  2. Ask people to record their stories on audio or video and upload them
  3. Interview people to record their stories (written, audio, video)

Note: There are also alternative ways to collect stories and experiences to health topics, such as through art, comic books, or photographs, which also have their own evaluation methodologies you may be interested in exploring (e.g., PhotoVoice for photos, art-based evaluation).

🧑‍🦼 If you’re collecting stories in person: Train story collectors on the process of approaching people in the community, discussing the process, obtaining informed consent, interviewing/soliciting the story from interested storytellers, and documenting it.

💻 If you’re collecting stories online: Set up a web form or webpage where you explain the project, define what kinds of stories you’re looking for, provide a section for informed consent and make it easy for people to enter or upload their stories.

🚪Carefully choose your community entry point and format. Having a community liaison or respected leader introduce the project on your behalf can improve acceptance and participation.

🦗 Make a plan for how to collect stories from different quieter “corners” of the chosen community so that you include more perspectives in the full story collection. Community leaders or experts can provide suggestions on how to do this.

🚀 Launch your story collection period.

Visit the resources page for templates, tools, and more.
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