StoryCorps to Capture Parents’ Stories at Siteman


Washington University



Diane Duke Williams

Marisa Karplus



646-723-7020, ext.75

March 19, 2009 – Nationally recognized StoryCorps will visit the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine April 17 to 21 as part of a collaborative project to better understand how parents with cancer discuss the diagnosis with their children. This visit is the first time that StoryCorps, the largest oral history project of its kind, has partnered to collect the stories of cancer survivors on a single topic.

Click to listen to interviews from the StoryCorps library.
In addition to gathering stories about how parents communicate with their children, the study hopes to identify the most effective ways for parents to tell their children about this disease.

StoryCorps also will visit the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital on April 24 to 27 and the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital on April 30 to May 3.

“Most parents diagnosed with cancer aren’t sure how to talk to their kids about it, and there aren’t many resources available to help them,” says Matthew Kreuter, PhD, an advisor on the StoryCorps partnership and director of the Health Communication Research Laboratory at Washington University’s Brown School of Social Work. “This project will help future cancer patients prepare for and make the most of these conversations.”

While at each Siteman location, trained facilitators from StoryCorps will record six parent/child pairs a day. To be eligible, participants must be willing to share in detail how they told their child or children they had cancer. They also must have a child who is  now 18 or older to whom they disclosed their cancer diagnosis when the child was younger than 18. The adult child should be able to recall and share detailed memories of being told their parent had cancer.

To help guide the discussion during the 40-minute interview, StoryCorps facilitators will provide the participants with a list of suggested questions.

Parent/child pairs also must be willing to take part in a survey and an interview after the recording.

“StoryCorps is perfectly positioned to gather stories on cancer-related topics,” says Linda Squiers, PhD, principal investigator of the research project and a senior health communication analyst at RTI International, a nonprofit research institute. “We hope to pave the way for StoryCorps to gather stories at other cancer centers across the country. If we are able to use these stories to develop communication tools for newly diagnosed parents, we will fill a large gap in clinical resources for patients.”

For more information or to sign up for an interview, call 314-935-3768.