Training and tools for public narratives - Minnesota Dept. of Health

Training and tools for public narratives

As the work of the Healthy Minnesota Partnership progressed, MDH developed, with the help of the Grassroots Policy Project, a structured training to help participants understand what narrative is and how public narratives shape policy decisions. By the end of 2018, MDH staff had facilitated the narrative training (or variations of it) over 40 times, training over 1,500 public health professionals and others in Minnesota.

In the narrative trainings, participants learn the power of public narratives to shape policy and advance health equity. Facilitators teach how to refocus conversations about health onto social and economic conditions, and from there to solutions that address those conditions. Participants develop skills to identify dominant narratives and learn how to apply narrative frames about health to their work.

The narrative trainings:

  • Reveal how values support different narratives
  • Help participants recognize and unmask the public narratives that dominate policy decisions
  • Introduce participants to an emerging health narrative that can yield a wider set of ideas to advance health equity
  • Teach participants how to uncover and build on shared values
  • Encourage participants to be intentional about working out of the emerging health narrative and identify how their actions could be different


Narrative tools

Download: Public narratives

Terms and definitions for expanding public conversations (PDF)

Moving into action: Worksheet (PDF)
This worksheet can help participants apply a critical lens, through a broad narrative about health to existing or proposed policies.

Ground rules for difficult conversations and talking about race (PDF)

Simple rules for expanding the narrative in written communications (PDF)
This handout provides a few simple rules for using a wider health narrative in various forms of communication, and includes an example about asthma.

Opportunities for expanding narrative: Developing new muscles and practices (PDF)
This is a list of examples for ways to start using a more expansive narrative about health, at work and in one’s personal life, with some questions to consider.

Shaping new possibilities: Questions for small group discussions (PDF)
This worksheet for small group discussions helps participants think about and identify places where they can start using the emerging narrative and doing work differently.

Using emerging narrative frames: Worksheet (PDF)
This worksheet walks participants through a series of steps to learn how to use emerging frames in interactions with various audiences.

Messaging and narratives reflect underlying values and worldviews: Examples (PDF)