• arts-informed research;
  • dementia care;
  • ethnodrama;
  • interprofessional education;
  • qualitative research;
  • reflective healthcare practice;
  • research-based drama

jonas-simpson c., mitchell g.j., carson j., whyte c., dupuis s. & gillies j. (2012) Phenomenological shifts for healthcare professionals after experiencing a research-based drama on living with dementia. Journal of Advanced Nursing68(9), 1944–1955.


Aim.  The aim of this article is to report research findings describing phenomenological shifts, that is, changes in patterns of lived experience, for healthcare professionals who attended a performance of a research-based drama, called I’m Still Here.

Background.  The research drama, based on six studies, was created to help change the ways persons understand, think about and relate with persons living with dementia.

Methods.  In 2006–2007, 50 healthcare professionals from various disciplines and eight nursing students participated in this study. Participants were recruited from four Canadian cities in the province of Ontario where focus groups were held before and after engaging in a live performance of I’m Still Here.

Findings.  Analysis of focus group transcripts showed shifts in patterns of lived experience for the healthcare professional participants as evident in the participants’ descriptions. The phenomenological shifts reflected a move from descriptions of ‘diminishing humanness to discerning humanness’, from ‘disengaged care/mundane relating to reflexive relating in the now’, and ‘terrifying portrayals of loss to awakening to hopeful possibility’. The shifts described herein are supported with examples from the focus group transcripts.

Conclusions.  Findings reveal the power of drama as a vibrant and meaningful means of shifting understandings, images and intended actions of healthcare professions which have the potential to affect the lived experiences, relationships and quality of life of persons with dementia.