What's in a story? A text analysis of burn survivors' web-posted narratives

Karen Badger, David Royse, Kelly Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Story-telling has been found to be beneficial following trauma, suggesting a potential intervention for burn survivors who frequently make use of "telling their story" as part of their recovery. This study is the first to examine the word content of burn survivors' Web-posted narratives to explore their perceptions of the event, supportive resources, their post-burn well-being, and re-integration using a comparison group and a text data analysis software developed by the widely recognized James Pennebaker. Suggestions for using expressive writing or story-telling as a guided psychosocial intervention with burn survivors are made.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)577-594
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Work in Health Care
Issue number8
StatePublished - Sep 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The sample was drawn from burn survivors’ autobiographical postings found on the website of the Phoenix Society, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to “empowering anyone affected by a burn injury through peer support, education, and advocacy” (Phoenix Society, 2010). Phoenix Society members may post autobiographical information and their pictures on the Society’s website for the purpose of creating a sense of community, linking with other burn survivors, and facilitating any healing that might come from telling a story connected with the burn injury. Phoenix Society members’ confidentiality is protected by establishing a unique screen name with the option of sharing personal information in their burn story. It is usually possible to extract information such as their Age When Burned, Current Age, Cause of Burn, Total Body Surface Area Burned, and Helpful Support Resources along with the narrative. These established postings are in the public domain and available to anyone once they register on the site. The study was completed with approval by the Institutional Review Board and the support of The Phoenix Society.


  • Burn survivors
  • Burns
  • Expressive writing
  • Intervention
  • Recovery
  • Story-telling
  • Text analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Community and Home Care
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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