Sharing Recovery Stories: An Exploration of Intergroup Contact in Public Settings

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Storytelling, stigma, substance use, action research, education, intergroup contact, stigma reduction, health, lived experience
Corvini, Marguerite
An abstract of the dissertation of Marguerite Corvini for the degree of Doctor of Education in Leadership, Learning, and Community Presented on October 27, 2022 Title: Sharing Recovery Stories: An Exploration of Intergroup Contact in Public Settings Abstract Approved: Name: Suzanne Gaulocher Dissertation Committee Chair The purpose of this study was to understand the experience individuals in recovery from substance use have when sharing their story in a public setting (i.e., intergroup contact) and how this affects their personal journey and ongoing recovery. A theoretical framework was developed based on Kelly’s experience cycle and a multilevel approach to stigma and public health by Cook et al. (2012). Participants were recruited through a snowball sampling method beginning with recovery center organizations in New Hampshire. Through this recruitment approach, 26 individuals participated. Data collection occurred using a narrative inquiry approach with semi-structured interviews and were analyzed through an ongoing and iterative process. All data were aggregated and analyzed using the software program Dedoose. Results from this study show a gap in the literature, specifically the negative consequences individuals may experience when sharing their lived experience in a public setting. Negative consequences mainly centered around the structural, interpersonal, and intrapersonal levels of stigma experience by individuals. Each of these levels can impact an individual’s ability to tell their authentic story in a public setting without risking their health, either physically or psychologically, and evoking a trauma response. Alternatively, findings do confirm the positive iii consequences of sharing lived experiences found in previous research, such as fighting stigma, self-acceptance, and external validation. Overall results indicate that storytelling in a public setting is a complex experience for individuals in recovery that can result in both positive and negative consequences. Findings from this study have the potential to inform promising practices for both storytellers and organizations as they prepare to share recovery stories with public audiences.