Review Article| Volume 59, e93-e105, July 2021

Narrative Diaries in Pediatrics: A Scoping Review

Published:February 20, 2021DOI:


      • Narrative health diaries are commonly used in pediatric settings.
      • Narrative health diaries in children are used to describe experiences of illness.
      • Adolescents with chronic diseases and their families are the most common diarists.
      • Diaries are usually used at home, at the hospital or in the school setting.
      • The narrative health diary is an ‘adaptable’ tool to different settings and aims.



      Health diaries with both clinical and narrative elements have been widely used in pediatrics to study children's and families' experiences of illness and coping strategies. The objective of this study is to obtain a synthesis of the literature about narrative health diaries using the PRISMA extension for scoping reviews.

      Eligibility criteria

      Sources were limited to: English language; narrative diaries; children/adolescents and/or parents/caregivers.


      The following databases were searched: PubMed, Embase and CINAHL with no time limits.


      Among 36 articles included the most common context where a diary was implemented was the home (61%), the hospital (17%) and the school (14%). The most common diarist is the child or adolescent (50%). Paper diary was the most common type (53%), followed by the video diary (19%), the e-diary (8%) or the audio diary (8%). None of the studies explored the impact of the use of diaries on patient outcomes.


      The narrative health diary is used to report patient experiences of illness or common life from the point of view of the child, adolescent or other family members. The diversity of the diaries found shows how the narrative diary may be ‘adapted’ to different settings and pediatric populations.


      The narrative diary is a relevant tool for the exploration of children's and adolescents' experiences of illness and common life. Studies are still needed to describe the impact of narrative diaries keeping on children's health outcomes.


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