“Take a walk in someone else’s shoes”: the role of participatory arts for health research development and training

Stephanie Gillibrand, Paul Hine, Rob Conyers, Jason Gravestock, Cole Walsh, Aneela Mcavoy, Caroline Sanders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Participatory arts are increasingly recognised as a valuable and accessible mechanism for giving a voice to the experiences of individuals’ health and healthcare. In recent years, there has been a move towards embedding participatory arts-based models into public engagement processes. Here, we contribute to the existing literature on the use of participatory arts-based approaches and their role in health research and healthcare practise, focusing on two interlinked approaches, the creation of personas and storytelling. We draw on two recent projects which have utilised these approaches to inform subsequent healthcare research and as a professional training tool to improve patient experience in a healthcare setting. We add to emerging literature to outline the benefits of these approaches in supporting research and training in healthcare settings, with a focus towards the co-produced foundations of these approaches. We demonstrate how such approaches can be utilised to capture different forms of voices, experiences and perspectives to help inform healthcare research and training, rooted in the lived experience of individuals who are directly involved in the creative process of creating personas via storytelling. These approaches challenge the listener to “walk in someone else’s shoes”, using their own homes and lives as a theatrical set in which to envisage someone else’s story, involving the listener in the creative process through (re)imagining the stories and experiences of the characters.
Greater use of immersive, co-produced participatory art-based approaches should be used in PPIE to inform research and training in healthcare settings as a means of centring those with lived experience through co-production. Involving those with lived experiences, particularly from groups who are traditionally less included in research, via a process which is based on co-creation and co-production, reorientates the researcher-participant dynamics to fully centre those involved in the research at the heart of the tools used to guide health and healthcare research. In this way, it may also aid in trust and relationship building between institutions and communities in a way which is focused around positive, creative methods to aid health research and healthcare processes. Such approaches may help to break down barriers between academic institutions, healthcare sites and communities.

Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch Involvement and Engagement
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2023


  • Participatory arts
  • theatre, co-production
  • lived experience
  • marginalised communities


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