Metaphors in the Making: Illuminating the Process of Arts-Based Health Research Through a Case Exemplar Linking Arts-Based, Qualitative and Quantitative Research Data

Mandy Archibald, John Blines

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The potentials of arts-based health research are increasingly being realized as an approach to understanding and communicating the complexities of the human experience of health and illness. Despite this, arts-based health research often remains shrouded in obscurity, limiting its potential utility. Arts-based health research offers unique opportunities to integrate evidence of patients’ lived experience with other forms of research evidence to improve understanding and knowledge translation, but transparent descriptions of this praxis are generally lacking. In response, this article offers methodological insight and guidance through an in-depth case exemplar of an arts-based health research process linking qualitative research with diverse evidence sources in the context of frailty research. Methods: Responding to research data generated within a Centre of Research Excellence in Frailty and Healthy Ageing, we adopted a researcher-as-practitioner stance to produce research-based artworks to integrate and communicate conflicting research findings. We structure this process according to Ecker’s seven domains of qualitative inquiry, demonstrating parallels between the arts-based research and qualitative inquiry processes and offering opportunities for engaging with “evidence misalignments” resulting from incongruent evidence sources. Findings: Arts-based health research can enable meaningful reflection upon, integration, and communication of “evidence-misalignments” in research spanning the health and social sciences. Such misalignments are problematic when the lived experience of health and illness conflicts with other empirical evidence, including gold standard evidence guiding treatment decisions. These in turn, can function as plausible barriers to self management and to achievement of health outcomes. Interpretation: Through the researcher-as-practitioner lens, and with an orientation to production, this work engaged with a new means of materiality—one that extends beyond text and numerical representations—and whose meaning and connections may not be immediately apparent. These relationships change how the researchers-practitioner engages with, understands, explores, and represents concepts, enabling epistemological and ontological gains of benefit to the health and social sciences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Qualitative Methods
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • arts based methods
  • arts-based knowledge translation
  • arts-based research
  • case study
  • focus groups
  • interpretive description
  • methods in qualitative inquiry
  • mixed methods


Dive into the research topics of 'Metaphors in the Making: Illuminating the Process of Arts-Based Health Research Through a Case Exemplar Linking Arts-Based, Qualitative and Quantitative Research Data'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this