Innovative Knowledge Translation in Mental Health

katherine boydell

Using the arts to create and disseminate research

Arts-based knowledge translation (KT) is concerned with the creation, dissemination and communication of knowledge. Such approaches to KT offer unique ways of engaging diverse stakeholders on important health-care issues. Arts-based KT initiatives enhance our understanding by focusing on experiential and interactive aspects of illness and health care. Further, they can produce important embodied and affective responses for both participants and audiences, over and above solely enhancing cognitive understanding of a given topic (Parsons & Boydell, 2012)

Like the narrative turn in social science, a democratising impulse underlies the use of arts-based methods in KT, in that they privilege insider knowledge and are efficient at imparting complex ideas in accessible and meaningful formats, but without oversimplifying (Frank, 2004). Some investigators have turned to arts-based methods in an effort to reveal lived experiences of illness in their complexity and to “give voice” to participants seldom heard from (Guillemin, 2004). Others have employed arts-based methods to empower and engage participants more fully in the research process and to challenge or rebalance traditional power relationships (Clarke et al., 2005).

This presentation will highlight several exemplars of the use of art genres in the research process; to create and disseminate findings (Boydell et al, 2016; Boydell et al., 2012).

Professor Katherine Boydell holds a PhD in qualitative sociology and MHSc in Community Health and Epidemiology and is a Professor of Mental Health at The Black Dog Institute, University of New South Wales. Her research is both methodological and substantive; substantively, it focuses on understanding the complex pathways to care for young people experiencing a first episode of psychosis, the use of new technologies in child and youth mental health, and the ‘science’ of knowledge translation. Methodologically, it focuses on advancing qualitative inquiry, specifically, in the area of arts-based health research. Professor Boydell explores the use of a wide variety of art genres in the creation and dissemination of empirical research - including documentary film, dance, digital storytelling, found poetry, installation art and body mapping. Her work takes a critical perspective and focuses on the theoretical, methodological and ethical challenges of engaging in arts-based health research. She has published more than 150 journal articles and has published a recent text titled Hearing Voices: Qualitative Inquiry in Early Psychosis.

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