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creative nonfiction, end-of-life care, qualitative inquiry, self-care, storytelling



  1. Bruce, Anne PhD, RN
  2. Daudt, Helena PhD
  3. Breiddal, Susan PhD


Research into self-care practices suggests the need for conscientious and systematic support of nurses and other health care providers. The purpose of this study was to explore the impact of an innovative self-care initiative. The goals were to explore the experience of nurses and other health care providers participating in a reflective, creative nonfiction storytelling event called "Dinner and Stories" and the potential benefits and limitations of using an informal, storytelling model for self-care. A qualitative narrative design was used. Twenty-seven participants including nurses, social workers, and hospice volunteers wrote creative nonfiction stories about a lingering experience of providing care. At predefined dates, groups of up to six met for dinner in a home setting. Participants read aloud, listened deeply, and discussed their narrated stories. Four sources of data were collected: creative nonfiction stories, online forum discussions, in-depth interviews, and host facilitator field notes. Researchers identified four themes: (1) needing a self-care culture, (2) storytelling and writing as healing, (3) co-creating layers of connection, and (4) preferring face-to-face contact. Results add to knowledge about the therapeutic benefits of writing and storytelling for nurses and other health care providers including enriched meaning-making, emotional conveyance, and therapeutic connections between storytellers and listeners.