Medical Humanities

  • We are interdisciplinary, international and theoretically oriented
  • We conduct research that explores cultural, ethical, social, historical and sociolinguistic aspects of health and illness; illness experiences; diagnosis; medical knowledge and practice and clinical communication, while demonstrating its clinical relevance 
  • We mainly work with qualitative methodologies and theoretical studies
  • We explore innovative and creative methodological approaches 

This is an interdisciplinary researchgroup, established in 2012, with a variety of disciplinary experts, including sociology, philosophy and sociolinguistics. We address a field of enquiry in which humanities and social science 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 illness (references: Durham University and Wellcome trust).

Our research is based on concepts, theories and perspectives from the humanities, social sciences, and the arts, and it spans the social, historical, cultural and sociolinguistic dimensions of health, illness and medical practice. By exploring experience, knowledge and practice in context, through theoretically informed qualitative research, we 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. 

Although our researchgroup is a formal unit at the University of Tromsø, our research 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.

Our research is currently concentrated on the following topics, all united with cultural, philosophical and/or sociolinguistic perspectives:

  • Doctor-patient interaction: roles; communication; uncertainty; shared decision-making
  • Illness narratives
  • Cultural perspectives on health and illness
  • Sociology of diagnosis
  • Philosophy of medicine and ethics
  • Qualitative methodology
  • Analysing visual-verbal data

Publications from our main ongoing international project Clinical Interaction in Context (read more on our website here):

Lian OS, Nettleton S, Wifstad Å and Dowrick C (2021) Modes of Interaction in Naturally Occurring Medical Encounters with General Practitioners: The ´One in a Million´ Study. Qualitative Health Research 31(6): 1129-1143.

Lian OS, Nettleton S, Wifstad Å and Dowrick C (2021) Negotiating Uncertainty in Clinical Encounters: A Narrative Exploration of Naturally Occurring Primary Care Consultations. Social Science & Medicine 291 (114467).

Lian OS, Nettleton S, Grange H and Dowrick C (2022) “I’m not the doctor; I’m just the patient”: Patient agency and shared decision-making in naturally occurring primary care consultations. Patient Education and Counceling 105(7): 1996-2004

Lian OS, Nettleton S, Grange H and Dowrick C (2023) ‘It feels like my metabolism has shut down’. Negotiating interactional roles and epistemic positions in a primary care consultation. Health Expectations 26(1): 366-375. DOI: 10.1111/hex.13666 (in press)

Our most recent book projects:

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