Medical Humanities

We define the research area medical humanities broadly to include research related to historical and culturally contingent aspects of health-related issues. In its widest context, this incorporates historical, cultural, social, ethical, and political 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).

Our medical humanities research group supports this definition by involving a variety of disciplinary experts working in research that spans the social, historical and cultural dimensions of health, illness and medical practice. By exploring experience, knowledge and practice in context, our research aim to enrich our understanding of the historical and culturally contingent aspects of health 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:

  • Lay experiences of health, illness and medical practice, and changing concepts of health and illness
  • Sociology of diagnosis
  • Medically contested chronic conditions
  • Gendered perspectives on health, illness, disease, diagnosis, medical knowledge and medical practice
  • Medical knowledge-acquisition and medical uncertainty
  • Philosophy of medicine and ethics

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