Data Storytelling : Turning Research Insights into Relatable Content

By Katy Plant & Corina Paraschiv


Managing pain is one of the most desired skills mentioned, as identified in our most recent survey with chronically ill patients. Over the past few months, we have taken this insight further by identifying underlying goals and motivations of individuals living with chronic pain. You may, in fact, have seen our previous findings in our past article, What Participants Want.


Simply gathering data, however, is not sufficient to improve our visitors’ journey prior to and during their enrollment with our Better Choices, Better Health® program.


One of the key principles to better understand the motivations of why people sign up for our programs is the concept of “jobs to be done.” The concept explains how customers want to “hire” a product to do a job, or, as Harvard Business School professor Theodore Levitt put it, “People don’t want a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!” Behind every good product exists a job it must perform.


To translate insights into actionable assets, we gathered some of our peer facilitators in a half-day workshop. The goal was to co-create content that will eventually become updated recruitment materials for our program that are relevant and relatable to our participants. These narratives help to frame the “jobs to be done” we had identified in previous research.


In the workshop we collected a total of 256 storylines related to pain management objectives identified in our research. These stories are then coded through various themes and personae, to create 9 unique storylines to be used on the website.  The table below illustrates three such stories.




The advantage of community-generated stories backed by rigorous quantitative research, is its relevance. Co-creating narratives that mirror participants’ direct experiences allows us to talk with candor about everyday hurdles of chronic conditions. It allows us to open dialogues around issues that are seldom understood by people’s support network – but which are surprisingly common amidst our community. These same stories are the pathway to building trust and strengthening intrinsic motivation with our participants as they embark on their journey to manage their health and regain or maintain the things in life that are important to them.



Above: One of three boards filled with stories.  In separate rooms, workshop participants engaged with a facilitator to generate stories from their experiences with chronic conditions.  Acting as proxies for peers, as well as sharing some of their personal insights, they collectively built 256 stories inspired by real events.  All of these stories were centered around the desired outcomes from our previous research.


Above:  Image of our four personae.  Developed from our previous research, we have identified four common settings under which adults living with chronic conditions interact with their pain.


We hope to repeat this process to co-create content for our website and marketing materials with our community of workshop facilitators and past workshop graduates. Watch this space for more insights on how using community story telling techniques can drive website engagement.


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