What is Narrative Medicine?

Here are some frequently asked questions about narrative medicine.

What is narrative medicine?

As a relatively new field of study, there is no single commonly-accepted definition of narrative medicine. However, our humble take on it is this:

Narrative medicine is the study of storytelling in health.

We then use these stories to inform and develop our practice.

How do you study narrative medicine?

There are innumerable different ways to study narrative medicine, but there are generally two key components:

  1. Study of a source material - e.g. a novel, poem or play.
  2. Creative expression - typically in the form of writing as a response to the source material.
Which materials can I use?

Anything that tells a story! This generally means novels, short stories, poems, essays, plays, films, TV shows, paintings, sculptures, photographs and so on.

Why is narrative medicine important? What is the purpose of narrative medicine?

Now there's a loaded question. In our opinion, narrative medicine is not important: people are.

Narrative medicine provides us with a compassionate and meaningful way to connect with others and, hopefully, to become better caregivers.

What are the benefits of narrative medicine?

Narrative medicine is a relatively new field, and the evidence base regarding outcomes is still emerging.

However, there is some evidence that narrative medicine can improve physician wellbeing, communication and even certain health outcomes for patients.

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