Friday, September 04, 2015

Narrative medicine

We recently had a very good fortnight at the lovely Treshnish and Haunn Cottages on the beautiful Isle of Mull, and among the books on the shelves there was a copy of an issue of Granta about medicine (issue 120, Summer 2012, see here for a contents list  - full articles only available to subscribers). 

One of the pieces was by Chris Adrian, a published novelist who is also a paediatrician in the USA.  It was (or appeared to be) an address to students at his old medical school, about narrative medicine, but interspersed with his own story (of that of his character, but either way demonstrating the use of narrative).

Narrative medicine is the use of patients' or practitioners' stories in health care, or the use of fiction to explore health issues.  (Thanks to a slide presentation from the East Scotland Postgraduate GP Training Unit for that).

In the piece, there is mention of two articles in Academic Medicine, a real journal.  I was interested to check to see if these were real articles, and they appear to be. 

First, an article by Dasgupta of Columbia University.   This is PMID 15044169, about empathy, although PMID 25945967 is much more recent and by the same author.  (PubMed puts these two in a box at the top of the search results, as well as among the search results, which include results containing the word academic and the word medicine, as well as those results in the journal of that name).

And then, one by Kumagai of the University of Michigan.   Because foolishly I have forgotten to make any more detailed note about what the article was about, I am not sure which of the 20 odd results it is!

A PubMed search using the journal abbreviation (Acad Med) still looks for acad and med separately, but finds fewer red herrings than using the full words. 

A few links for more information:

Columbia University Medical Center's Program in Narrative Medicine - as well as details of the activities and courses of the Program, there is a bibliography of work by Program members.

King's College London has a Centre for the Humanities and Health, which has been involved in setting up an International Network of Narrative Medicine.

The BMJ has published a short series of articles about narrative based medicine (you will need a subscription to read the articles).  Trisha Greenhalgh and Brian Hurwitz, the authors of at least some of these articles, also wrote a book called Narrative based medicine: dialogue and discourse in clinical practice (ask your librarian, unless you are one, of course!).

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