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The Health Humanities Consortium promotes health humanities scholarship, education, and practices through interdisciplinary methods and theories that focus on the intersection of the arts and humanities, health, illness, and healthcare. 

  Our goals are to:  

  • Promote understanding of the experiences of patients, caregivers, and communities as they are shaped in relation to models of disease, illness, health, and wellness.
  • Share practices and scholarship through an annual meeting.
  • Educate the public, healthcare professionals, and educators about the history, practice, and study of health humanities.

The Health Humanities is the study of the intersection of health and humanistic disciplines (such as philosophy, religion, literature)  fine arts, as well as social science research that gives insight to the human condition (such as history, anthropology, sociology, and cultural studies.)*

The Health Humanities use methods such as reflection, contextualization, deep textual reading, and slow critical thinking to examine the human condition, the patient’s experience, the healer’s experience, and to provide renewal for the health care professional.


 A Brief History of
the Health Humanities

Quoted from Health and the Arts: Approaches to the Medical
Humanities
. Eds. Victoria Bates, Alan Bleakley, and Sam Goodman (Routledge 2014):
281-283,

1937

At Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, E.E. Reinke calls for “leavening technical training with a liberal education” (USA)

1944-45

The medical humanities begin as the nascent art threapy movement. Adrian Hill publishes Art Versus Illness about using art to treat patients in a tuberculosis sanatorium (UK)

1947

George Sarton coins the term “medical humanities” in the journal that he founded: Isis, the official publication of the History of Science Society (USA)

1952-57

Western Reserve University School of Medicine (today Case Western Reserve School of Medicine) introduces a history of medicine innovation during an extended curriculum overhaul (USA)

1967

The first Department of Humanities in any medical school is established at Pennsylvania State University’s College of Medicine (USA)

1970

The Society for Health and Human Values (SHHV) is officially established as a member organization (USA)

1973

The Institute for the Medical Humanities is founded at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston with content emphases in history, literature and religious studies (USA)

1979

Journal of Medical Humanities is launched (USA)

1982

The journal Literature and Medicine is launched (USA)

The Institute for Medical Humanities at UTMB awards first PhD in Medical Humanities (USA)

1984

Eric Cassell publishes an influential Hastings Center commissioned report, The Place of the Humanities in Medicine (USA)

1990

The Center for Literature and Medicine is established at Hiram College including the Literature and Medicine book series (USA)

1991

Kathryn Montgomery Hunter publishes Doctors’ Storiesarguing that doctors’ clinical reasoning can be seen as a narrative process within the detective genre (USA)

1993

Wellcome Foundation organizes a seminar on the arts in
health (UK)

1994

The first medical humanities website is established at the New
York School of Medicine (USA)

The first medical humanities conference is organized: “The Science and Art of Medicine” (New Zealand)

1995

The Royal Society of Medicine organizes a symposium entitled, “Art in Hospitals: Past, Present and Future” (UK)

I. C. McManus, based at St. Mary’s Hospital (Imperial College) London, writes an article in The Lancet highlighting the importance of incorporating the humanities into medical education (UK)

1996

The University of Auckland hosts the first Pacific Rim conference on narrative-based medicine (New Zealand)

1998

The Society for Health and Human Values, Society for Bioethics Consultation and the American Association for Bioethics merge to form the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities (USA)

The first UK medical humanities conference is organized. The conference proceedings refer to UK medical humanities initiatives as “twenty years behind” the Galveston model (UK)

The Medical Humanities Unit is established at the Royal Free and University College Medical School, London (UK)

1998-99

Two landmark medical humanities conferences are
organized with the aim of broadening the interests of the medical humanities beyond arts therapy: Windsor I and Windsor II (UK)

1999

The Nuffield Trust helps to establish a Centre for the Arts and Humanities in Health and Medicine at the University of Durham and a new Institute of Medical Humanities (UK)

2000

The British Medical Journal publishing group launches a new journal—Medical Humanities—as a sister publication to the established Journal of Medical Ethics (UK)

The Program in Narrative Medicine is established at Columbia University (USA)

2001

Medical Humanities published by Wiley (UK)

2002

The inaugural meeting of the UK Association for Medical Humanities is held at the University of Birmingham (UK)

Peninsula Medical School (Universities of Exeter and Plymouth) is the first UK medical school to integrate the medical humanities as core curriculum (UK)

2003

A special edition of the journal Academic Medicine is devoted to the state of the art of medical humanities in medical education, dominated by USA medical schools (USA)

2004

Ars Medica, a biannual journal, exploring “what makes medicine an art” is launched (Canada) 

2008

The Wellcome Trust awards two large grants to set up centres for research in the medical humanities, at the University of Durham and the University of London King’s College (UK)

Hektoen International journal is founded in Chicago by the Hektoen-Institute of Medicine (first issue published in 2009) (USA)

2009

An updated version of Tomorrow’s Doctors removes specific
recommendations concerning the humanities in the undergraduate medicine curriculum, but maintains an emphasis on communication skills (UK)

2011

The inaugural conference of the Canadian Health
Humanities network is held in Toronto (Canada)

International Health Humanities Network founded (UK)

2014

The first Health Humanities Reader is published by Rutgers University Press (USA)

Medical Humanities: An Introduction is published by Cambridge University Press 

2015

Founding of the Health Humanities Consortium (USA)

First HHC affiliated conference at University of Colorado Anschutz Campus (USA)

Health Humanities published by Palgrave (UK)

Alan Bleakly published Medical Humanities and Medical Education: How the medical humanities can shape better doctors. Routledge (UK)

2016

Hiram College and the University of Colorado Denver post the first survey of baccalaureate health humanities teaching (USA)

2017

Special issue of Journal of Medical Humanities
published on baccalaureate health humanities teaching (USA)

Publication of Medical Humanities Teaching in North American Allopathic & Osteopathic Medical Schools.” Journal of Medical Humanities (USA).

*Adapted from the National Library of Medicine’s definition for Medical Humanities

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