Digital storytelling refers to a 2 to 5 minute audio-visual clip combining photographs, voice-over narration, and other audio (Lambert, 2009) originally applied for community development, artistic and therapeutic purposes, and more recently adapted as an arts-based research method. To date, no systematic review of the use of digital storytelling in a research capacity, to generate information about a phenomenon has been conducted. Accordingly, our aim was to provide a systematic review of digital storytelling in research. The review identified 25 articles representing 23 discrete studies that met inclusion criteria. A thematic analysis of results indicated that digital storytelling in research was especially appropriate for use with marginalised groups, and was most commonly used in this context. There was some variation in the extent to which digital storytelling in research adhered to the principles with which it was originally developed. Surprisingly, although digital storytelling provides a ready-made knowledge translation product, few research projects employed the digital stories generated to this end. Across research projects, participants reported several benefits of digital storytelling. While some disadvantages were noted, overall, these were outweighed by the benefits of using a respectful, participatory research practice.


Digital Storytelling, Arts-Based Research Method, Data Collection, Narrative, Systematic Review

Author Bio(s)

Dr. Adèle de Jager is a research officer at the Black Dog Institute and clinical psychologist in private practice. As part of her doctorate, she employed narrative analysis to investigate the lived experience of recovery in people who hear voices. Results were published in Qualitative Health Research. She has continued to conduct research on psychosis in collaboration with the Hearing Voices Network NSW. Her work at the Black Dog Institute focuses on qualitative research into psychosis and arts-based methods in research and dissemination. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: adjpsychology@gmail.com.

Dr. Andrea Fogarty is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Black Dog Institute, UNSW. Her research to date has focused primarily on public health programs, with particular emphases on men’s mental health, depression and using digital technology to provide mental health services. She is currently researching mental health prevention for adolescent males in sport and the use of arts-based research methods to examine young women’s experiences with suicide. She holds a PhD, Masters of International Public Health, and a Bachelor of Psychology Honours. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: a.fogarty@unsw.edu.au.

Anna Tewson is a writer and research assistant at the Black Dog Institute. She writes poetry and short stories, and enjoys blending elements of the metaphysical with the real. Anna aspires to use the skills learned in her degree to open an all-inclusive space for the public, in which they can tell new and different stories through writing, drama and music. Her work at the Black Dog Institute is centered around arts-based research and dissemination Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: a.tewson@blackdog.org.au.

Dr. Caroline Lenette is a lecturer in the School of Social Sciences at The University of New South Wales, Australia. She collaborates with resettled refugee women using visual ethnographic methods to convey their experiences of mental health and wellbeing. She has researched the links between music and the mental health and wellbeing of asylum seekers and refugees. Caroline is currently working on a project exploring the resettlement experiences of refugee women-at-risk who live in Brisbane, Australia, using digital storytelling Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: c.lenette@unsw.edu.au.

Professor Katherine M. Boydell is professor of mental health at the Black Dog Institute, University of New South Wales, Australia. Her research is both methodological and substantive; substantively, it focuses on understanding the complex pathways to care for young people experiencing a first episode of psychosis, the use of new technologies in child and youth mental health, and the "science" of knowledge translation. Methodologically, it focuses on advancing qualitative inquiry, specifically, in the area of arts-based health research. Katherine explores the use of a wide variety of art genres in the creation and dissemination of empirical research, including documentary film, dance, digital storytelling, found poetry, installation art and body mapping. Her work takes a critical perspective and focuses on the theoretical, methodological and ethical challenges of engaging in arts-based health research. She has published more than 200 journal articles and book chapters and edited a recent text with Bruce Ferguson titled Hearing Voices: Qualitative Inquiry in Early Psychosis (Wilfred Laurier University Press: Ontario, Canada). Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: k.boydell@unsw.edu.au.

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