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Creativity in health research

  • Posted by Annie,
  • Deputy Director,
  • in Listen up,
  • November '22

Find out more about how we work creatively with people

At Vocal we work creatively with patients, communities and researchers. Our approach values people’s lived experiences and is core to our vision of bringing people and health research together for everyone’s benefit.

Creative projects such as Radiotherapy & Me and #MyMSKStory enable people to explore and express their experiences in new ways. Each project is co-developed with people, who are affected by the health condition, carers, researchers and creative practitioners. We also partner with organisations and community groups who are interested in health and addressing health inequalities.

Three people sat down laughing and smiling

Many patients and researchers start a project doubting their creative abilities. Our way of working values people’s strengths and motivations and we support people to build their skills and gain confidence. Through creativity, people can explore their experiences from different perspectives and they always gain new insights.

In our projects, people will take part in a programme of collaborative activities and create outputs such as films, blogs, artwork and audio content which highlight the impact of health conditions, and people’s hopes for research. The content is shared with wider audiences at events and on social media to encourage more people to have a say in health research.

"I felt dehumanised as a patient and sharing my story allowed me to be human again and be more than my condition"

—Participant, #MyMSKStory

This approach values people’s own knowledge and helps to make the relationships between researchers and patients more equal. Through these projects researchers have gained more understanding about how health conditions affect people which has further motivated them in their research.

Creative approaches result in powerful content that resonates with public and specialist audiences. During the pandemic we worked with 45 young adults from India, South Africa and the UK who produced 50 articles, films and artworks as part of Planet DIVOC-91. The project reached an audience of 470,000 via social media. Participants had their voices heard by scientists, researchers and policy makers. Young people in the UK interviewed the Government Chief Scientific Adviser and contributed to an Independent SAGE committee meeting.

It helps you to speak out, it helps you to feel like you've got a voice and people are actually listening to you, which is something that I didn't know I needed but now that I've gone through that I felt it was really powerful and it was really game changing for me.

—Participant, Planet DIVOC 91

Our creative projects have empowered people to share their stories in their own words, encouraged more people to have a say in research and have fostered long-lasting partnerships.

If you’d like to find out more about working with us in this way please get in touch.