art-based approaches for disseminating knowledge

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To present a case example of using an arts-based approach and the development of an art exhibit to disseminate research findings from a narrative research study.


Once a study has been completed, the final step of dissemination of findings is crucial. In this paper, we explore the benefits of bringing nursing research into public spaces using an arts-based approach.

Data sources

Findings from a qualitative narrative study exploring experiences of living with life-threatening illnesses.

Review methods

Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with 32 participants living with cancer, chronic renal disease, or HIV/AIDS. Participants were invited to share a symbol representing their experience of living with life-threatening illness and the meaning it held for them.


The exhibit conveyed experiences of how people story and re-story their lives when living with chronic kidney disease, cancer or HIV. Photographic images of symbolic representations of study participants' experiences and poetic narratives from their stories were exhibited in a public art gallery. The theoretical underpinning of arts-based approaches and the lessons learned in creating an art exhibit from research findings are explored.


Creative art forms for research and disseminating knowledge offer new ways of understanding and knowing that are under-used in nursing.

Implications for practice/research

Arts-based approaches make visible patients' experiences that are often left unarticulated or hidden. Creative dissemination approaches such as art exhibits can promote insight and new ways of knowing that communicate nursing research to both public and professional audiences.

Cite this article as: Bruce A, Schick Makaroff KL, Sheilds L, Beuthin R, Molzahn A, Shermak S (2013) Lessons learned about arts-based approaches for disseminating knowledge. Nurse Researcher. 21, 1, 23-28.

Date of submission: September 11 2012. Date of acceptance: February 19 2013.

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