Dear Breath: using story structure to understand the value of letter writing for those living with breathlessness- a qualitative study

Elspeth Penny, Alice Malpass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
331 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Background: Despite the prevalence of dyspnoea (the pathological term for breathlessness) amongst the general population and the diagnostic importance of dyspnoea for respiratory illness, public awareness of dyspnoea is poor with an estimated two million people with undiagnosed Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder in the UK. We explore whether therapeutic letter writing is a valuable arts health approach for those living with breathlessness.

Methods: Eighty (80) participants took part in 10 workshops held in community-based settings. The overall approach was qualitative. We analysed the data thematically.

Results: Informed by theories of story structure, our analysis explores letters written to the breath in terms of there being a protagonist, antagonist, a process of recognition and reconciliation.

Conclusions: Writing a letter to the breath facilitates new ways of relating to breathlessness. Letters create a personal narrative and workshops create a public story. Further research should explore whether therapeutic letter writing can support communication about breathlessness with clinicians.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalArts and Health
Early online date14 Jan 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Jan 2019

Keywords

  • COPD
  • qualitative data
  • therapeutic letter writing
  • story structure
  • public story

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