Making the case for poetic inquiry in health services research

Frances Rapport, Graham Hartill

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter presents part of an ongoing dialogue between a qualitative health researcher working in Health Services Research (FR) and a poet and facilitator of creative writing working in the fields of health and social care (GH). It highlights the rich diversity of perspectives that can be disclosed when two people from differing backgrounds come together to consider the legitimacy of poetic inquiry as an academic paradigm. The chapter examines the application of the arts-based method ‘ethnographic poetic representation’ to Health Services Research studies and its relative underuse in this field. A piece of poetics is provided as an exemplar of the method’s use, derived from a study of Holocaust survivor testimonial that examined the relationship between the extraordinary event, personal trauma and the pathway to good health and wellbeing. The piece underpins the ensuing dialogical examination of the method between the two authors, whilst at the same time defends the ability of literary experimentation techniques to grapple with complex social data. Working with both theoretical perspectives and the poetic exemplar, the authors argue on behalf of the method as well as indicating wider opportunities for re-presenting difficult, emotive narrative through powerful, creative tools.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPoetic inquiry II – seeing, caring, understanding
Subtitle of host publicationusing poetry as and for inquiry
EditorsKathleen T. Galvin, Monica Prendergast
Place of PublicationRotterdam
PublisherSense Publishers
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9789463003162
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


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