Assimilating others' health narratives: An exploration of the integration or avoidance of narratives by women who have experienced premature labor and/or birth

Jennifer G Hall, Purdue University


This study explored how women who experienced high-risk pregnancies and premature birth integrated other stories they heard and read into their own stories about pregnancy and birth. Prior research on narratives has identified the central role stories play in health experiences. This study expands on this foundation by examining how the narratives women encountered shaped their personal narratives as they attempted to make sense of their situations and make health-related decisions. Forty-seven women who experienced high-risk pregnancies participated in semi-structured in-depth interviews. Interviews revealed that women incorporated the stories they encountered by adopting the language and terminology of other stories and developing expectations for future events. Additionally women frequently engaged in social comparison and incorporated those comparisons into their own stories. Others’ stories provided ideas regarding options and possibilities. In addition to hearing and reading stories, women also actively avoided stories. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.^




Marifran Mattson, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Women's Studies|Speech Communication

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