Research Involvement and Engagement (2020-08-01)

BRIGHTLIGHT researchers as ‘dramaturgs’: creating There is a Light from complex research data

  • Rachel M. Taylor,
  • Brian Lobel,
  • Keisha Thompson,
  • Adura Onashile,
  • Mark Croasdale,
  • Nathaniel Hall,
  • Faith Gibson,
  • Ana Martins,
  • David Wright,
  • Sue Morgan,
  • Jeremy S. Whelan,
  • Lorna A. Fern

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 6, no. 1
pp. 1 – 13


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Abstract Background BRIGHTLIGHT is a national evaluation of cancer services for young people aged 13–24 years in England. It is a mixed methods study with six interlinked studies aiming to answer the question: do specialist cancer services for teenagers and young adults add value? . Young people have been integral to study development and management, working as co-researchers, consultants and collaborators throughout. We aimed to share results in a way that was meaningful to young people, the public, and multidisciplinary professionals. This paper reports the development of ‘There is a Light: BRIGHTLIGHT’, a theatrical interpretation of study results by young people, and offers insight into the impact on the cast, researchers and audiences. Methods The BRIGHTLIGHT team collaborated with Contact Young Company, a youth theatre group in Manchester. Twenty members of Contact Young Company and four young people with cancer worked together over an eight-week period during which BRIGHTLIGHT results were shared along with explanations of cancer, healthcare policy and models of care in interactive workshops. Through their interpretation, the cast developed the script for the performance. The impact of the process and performance on the cast was evaluated through video diaries. The research team completed reflective diaries and audiences completed a survey. Results ‘There is a Light’ contained five acts and lasted just over an hour. It played 11 performances in six cities in the United Kingdom, to approximately 1377 people. After nine performances, a 30-min talk-back between members of the cast, creative team, an expert healthcare professional, and the audience was conducted, which was attended by at least half the audience. Analysis of cast diaries identified six themes: initial anxieties; personal development; connections; cancer in young people; personal impact; interacting with professionals. The cast developed strong trusting relationships with the team. Professionals stated they felt part of the process rather than sitting on the periphery sharing results. Both professional and lay audiences described the performance as meaningful and understandable. Feedback was particularly positive from those who had experienced cancer themselves. Conclusions Using theatre to present research enabled BRIGHTLIGHT results to be accessible to a larger, more diverse audience.