Medical Humanities

We define medical humanities broadly to include research related to culturally contingent aspects of health-related topics. In its widest context, this incorporates historical, cultural, social, ethical, political and sociolinguistic aspects of health and illness, and the knowledge and organisation of medical clinical practice.

Medical humanities is an interdisciplinary field of research based on concepts, theories and perspectives from the humanities, social sciences, and the arts. Medical Humanities addresses a field of enquiry in which humanities and social sciences perspectives are brought to bear upon an exploration of the human side of medicine - questions that are often ignored by the biomedical sciences. These perspectives have a key role to play in analysing experiences and expectations of medicine, and the relationship between medicine and our broader ideas of health and well-being (references: Durham University and Wellcome trust).

The Medical Humanities research group consists of a variety of disciplinary experts (sociology, philosophy, sociolinguistics and psychology). Our research spans the social, historical, cultural and sociolinguistic dimensions of health, illness and medical practice. By exploring experience, knowledge and practice in context, our research aim to enrich our understanding of historical and cultural contingent aspects of health, illness and medical practice. The intersection of medicine and culture, seen in an interdisciplinary perspective, is our unifying mark. Our research is currently concentrated on the following topics; all theoretically united with cultural, philosopical and/or sociolinguistic perspectives:

  • Doctor-patient interaction
  • Illness narratives
  • Changing conceptions of health and illness
  • Medical knowledge-acquisition
  • Medical uncertainty
  • Medically contested chronic conditions
  • Sociology of diagnosis
  • Philosophy of medicine and ethics

Our recent research is published in international and national journals and books. Our most recent book projects are:

For further information about publications and ongoing research, se the personal webpages of each of our members.

Our research group is a formal unit at the University of Tromsø, but in practice it extends far beyond our administrative institutional boundaries. Currently, we have extensive international and national collaboration with researchers from University of York, UK; University of Liverpool, UK; University hospital of North Norway and University of Oslo, Norway  – see separate banner for detailed information.