Empowering storybooks

Storytelling developed as a user-friendly knowledge tool for anxious parents

Shannon ScottShannon Scott has a story to tell about how an early Women and Children’s Health Research Institute grant paved the way for her nationally recognized research in knowledge translation. Call it "The Little Grant That Could."
Scott began exploring the potential of storytelling as a tool to help families deal with childhood illness in 2008 with an innovation grant from WCHRI. She was part of a team (led by Lisa Hartling, an associate professor of pediatrics) that developed a series of storybooks about croup and conducted a randomized trial in which some families, seeking emergency care for their children, received the books, while others were given standard information sheets.
“This was essentially armchair theorizing that we were doing right at the start,” says Scott, a nursing professor at the University of Alberta and a Canadian Research Chair for Knowledge Translation in Child Health. “We just thought stories would work.”
She already knew from other studies that the information sheets routinely handed out to parents in most clinics were not particularly useful and that a lack of easily digestible information contributed a great deal to the anxiety parents with sick children experienced, particularly in hospital emergency settings.
Armed with promising results from the first trial, Scott and Hartling expanded their research to explore other childhood medical conditions and other media such as interactive whiteboard videos. They have also contributed to the development of a web platform (trekk.ca) to put essential pediatric medical information into the hands of caregivers who have taken their children to hospital emergency rooms across Canada. The web platform was developed with partnership funding support from WCHRI.
“The initial 2008 grant allowed us to leverage other opportunities, funding, publications, presentations and trainees,” says Scott. “It has been absolutely foundational. It enabled us to move forward in our work. I can’t say enough about it.”
Scott’s contribution to the field of knowledge translation was recently acknowledged by her appointment to the prestigious Royal Society of Canada.
Scott’s research has been funded by the generous support of the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation through WCHRI.