Novant Health is implementing a new program that focuses on narrative medicine. The LivingStories initiative uses a process called "life narrative interviews" to help patients improve their coping skills and outlook.

Program Manager of Integrative Arts at Novant Health, Sharon Nelson, says LivingStories differs from other programs in that it isn't simply about biographical information.

"By helping people really enmesh themselves in all of the detail around a positive memory, we find that the impact, the emotional impact, the outlook, their coping, how they feel, is impacted for several hours or several days after going through the LivingStories interview."

Nelson says the interviews also focus on memories of hardship or challenge during which the patient drew on internal strength. Those coping skills, she says, might then be applied to their current medical diagnosis.

The program partners with StoryWork International and draws on research done in collaboration with Virginia Commonwealth University.

Novant has launched the program in Winston-Salem at their Forsyth Medical Center, and will expand it to other hospitals in the network by the end of the year.

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