• cultural;
  • women's issues;
  • health promotion/wellness

Purpose: To examine the health-promoting functions of storytelling in a group of women. Design: Secondary analysis, descriptive. A convenience sample of 28 women of African descent living in the Seattle-Tacoma region of the United States was used.

Methods: Narrative analysis of 115 stories. Data were audio-taped in four focus groups convened during a 6-week period in 1992.

Findings: Six major functions of storytelling were identified: (a) contextual grounding, (b) bonding with others, (c) validating and affirming experiences, (d) venting and catharsis, (e) resisting oppression, and (f) educating others.

Conclusions: Storytelling is useful for learning more about historical and contextual factors affecting the well-being of women of African descent and for improving their lives. Group storytelling can create an environment that supports evaluation of experience and promotes problem-solving.