J Cancer 2015; 6(9):859-865. doi:10.7150/jca.12276

Research Paper

Ethnodrama: An Innovative Knowledge Translation Tool in the Management of Lymphedema

Shahid Ahmed1✉, Elizabeth Quinlan2, Linda McMullen3, Roanne Thomas4, Pam Fichtner5, Janice Block6

1. Saskatoon Cancer Center, Department of Oncology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada;
2. Department of Sociology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada;
3. Department of Psychology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada;
4. School of Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada;
5. Sephira Healing, Saskatoon, SK, Canada;
6. Department of Physical Therapy, Royal University Hospital, Saskatoon, Canada.

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Ahmed S, Quinlan E, McMullen L, Thomas R, Fichtner P, Block J. Ethnodrama: An Innovative Knowledge Translation Tool in the Management of Lymphedema. J Cancer 2015; 6(9):859-865. doi:10.7150/jca.12276. Available from http://www.jcancer.org/v06p0859.htm

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Background: Lymphedema can cause significant physical impairment and quality-of-life issues. Yet there is a gap in knowledge about lymphedema among breast cancer survivors (BCS), and health care professionals (HCP). Ethnodrama is an innovative knowledge translation strategy that uses theatrical performances for dissemination of research results. We evaluated the impact of live ethnodrama on HCP' and BCS' awareness and attitudes in relation to impact of lymphedema on BCS' lives.

Methods: Ethnodrama performances were developed by script writers and a theatre director in collaboration with the investigators and BCS using data from published research and pre-performances workshops. Six interactive live performances were given to audiences of BCS, HCP, and community members in four cities across Canada. After watching these live performances, members of the audiences were asked to complete a paper-based questionnaire regarding their knowledge of lymphedema, and their attitudes and practices toward lymphedema.

Results: Of 238 audience members who participated in the survey, 55 (23%) were BCS and 85 (37.5%) were HCP. Most members rated the performances as very effective in changing their (84%) or other people's (93%) understanding of lymphedema; 96% reported being motivated to seek additional information on lymphedema, and 72% of HCP anticipated changes in their practices related to lymphedema screening. Overall no significant differences were noted in responses to ethnodrama between BCS and HCP. Open-ended responses were supportive of the findings from the closed-ended questions.

Conclusions: Our results indicate that ethnodrama performances effectively convey information and positively affecting changes in HCP' and BCS' attitudes toward lymphedema.

Keywords: Ethnodrama, lymphedema, knowledge translation, arm morbidities, breast cancer, survivorship, interactive theatre, attitude, health care professionals