The use of digital stories as a health promotion intervention: a scoping review

Abby M. Lohr, Jhenitza P. Raygoza Tapia, Elizabeth Salerno Valdez, Leslie C. Hassett, Aline C. Gubrium, Alice Fiddian-Green, Linda Larkey, Irene G. Sia, Mark L. Wieland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: It is challenging to develop health promotion interventions created in collaboration with communities affected by inequities that focus beyond individual behavior change. One potential solution is interventions that use digital stories (DS). Digital storytelling (DST) is an opportunity for reflection, connection with others, and the elevation of voices often absent from daily discourse. Consequently, public health researchers and practitioners frequently employ the DST workshop process to develop messaging that promotes health and highlights concerns in partnership with historically marginalized communities. With participants’ permission, DS can reach beyond the storytellers through behavior or attitude change interventions for health promotion among communities who share the targeted health concern. Our goal was to synthesize the literature describing interventions that use DS for health promotion to identify gaps. Methods: We conducted a scoping review. Our inclusion criteria were articles that: 1) described empirical research; 2) used DS that were developed using the StoryCenter DST method; 3) assessed an intervention that used DS to address the health promotion of viewers (individuals, families, community, and/or society) impacted by the targeted health issue 4) were written in English or Spanish. To synthesize the results of the included studies, we mapped them to the health determinants in the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) research framework. We assessed the number of occurrences of each determinant described in the results of each article. Results: Ten articles met the eligibility criteria. All the included articles highlighted health equity issues. Our mapping of the articles with definitive results to the NIMHD research framework indicates that interventions that use DS addressed 17 out of 20 health determinants. All mapped interventions influenced intentions to change health behaviors (NIMHD level/domain: Individual/Behavioral), increased health literacy (Individual/Health Care System), and/or stimulated conversations that addressed community norms (Community/Sociocultural Environment). Conclusions: Interventions that use DS appear to positively affect the health promotion of participants across a range of health issues and determinants. Future research is needed in the Interpersonal, Community, and Societal levels and within the Biological, Physical/Built Environment, and Sociocultural Environment domains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1180
JournalBMC public health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Digital storytelling
  • Health disparities
  • Health equity
  • Health promotion
  • Scoping review
  • Storytelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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