Storylines as a Neglected Tool for Mental Health Service Providers and Researchers

Khary K. Rigg, John W. Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Mental health service providers and researchers usually explain psychological/behavioral problems in terms of risk and protective factors. Although such an approach may seem empirical, and thus accurate, the manner in which patients interpret these factors is often overlooked. The result is that practitioners and researchers draw conclusions and make possible causal attributions that do not take into account the perspective of those who are studied or in care. Storylines, however, are a promising strategy to understanding mental health problems that is sensitive to the experiences and situations of people, and can bring into view more relevant details of patients' lives. This paper provides a theoretically grounded justification for the use of storylines in both mental health practice and research. Storylines are defined, while suggestions are provided for how this framework might be put into practice. A discussion is offered on how storylines might improve the design and implementation of health interventions by requiring these services to become more attuned to the lived experience of patients and the meanings they attach to common risk factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-440
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health and Addiction
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2013


  • Community-based approach
  • Etiology
  • Mental health practice and research
  • Risk and protective factors
  • Storylines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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