Tell me a story, not statistics.

A person with a small cat on their head speaks to a group of people with cat-head, saying "I know it's hard to use the cat head shampoo every day, but it's worth it."

When we talk about storytelling in public health, we mean bolstering your campaign or intervention using personal stories of real people who have dealt with a health issue or condition. And there are many reasons to use storytelling to support your health messages.

Research has shown that storytelling improves people’s self-efficacy to make important changes to their health behaviors. Another benefit is that storytelling has the potential to change how people feel about health organizations and the information we communicate — and that’s a big deal.

A key step toward improving health literacy is treating patients as partners in their health care. When you use storytelling in messaging and materials, you invite “non-expert” voices into the conversation.

Study after study is sending the same message: if you want your public health campaign to reach people and make a difference in their lives, it helps to include stories of real people facing real health challenges. So in your next strategy meeting for a new campaign, remember to tell your target audience what they need to hear: a story.

The bottom line: Storytelling is an effective way to communicate your public health messages. Try it out!