The Health Humanities Consortium LLC promotes health humanities scholarship, education, and practices that focus on intersections among the humanities, arts and social sciences in 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 into the human condition (such as history, anthropology, sociology, and cultural studies.) *Adapted from the National Library of Medicine’s definition for Medical Humanities

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 Health & Medical Humanities

Based, in part, on timeline presented in Health and the Arts: Approaches to the Medical Humanities. VIctoria Bates, Alan Bleakley, and Sam Goodman (eds). Routledge (2014): 281-283


Founding of the Institute of History of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University


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


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


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


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)


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


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


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)


Journal of Medical Humanities is launched (USA)


The journal Literature and Medicine is launched (USA)


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


Launch of CHCI Health & Medical Humanities Network; The Institute for Medical Humanities at UTMB offers first MA and PhD in Medical Humanities (USA)


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


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


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


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)


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)


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

1997 University of Swansea offers first masters programme in the UK.

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); 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 1998-1999)


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)


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)


Medical Humanities published by Wiley (UK); Dolev JC, Friedlaender LK, Braverman I. Use of fine art to enhance visual diagnostic skills. JAMA 2001;286:1020


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)


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)


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


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) ;CAME (Canadian Association for Medical Education)-sponsored Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences in Medicine (AHSSM) Educational Interest Group (Canada)


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)


The inaugural conference of the Canadian Health Humanities (Creating Spaces) network is held in Toronto (Canada); International Health Humanities Network founded (UK)


Health Humanities Reader is published by Rutgers University Press (USA); Medical Humanities: An Introduction is published by Cambridge University Press (USA); Launch of Journal of Humanities in Rehabilitation (USA).


Founding of the Health Humanities Consortium (USA); First HHC affiliated conference at University of Colorado Anschutz Campus (USA); PA Medical Humanities Consortium merges with HHC; Health Humanities published by Palgrave (UK); Alan Bleakly published Medical Humanities and Medical Education: How the medical humanities can shape better doctors. Routledge (UK)


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


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


Launch of The Polyphony journal (UK); Anderson-Fye EP, Julia Knopes, Hillary Villarreal. Piloting an Undergraduate Survey Course in Medical Humanities and Social Medicine: Lessons, Tradeoffs, and Institutional Contexts. Journal of Humanities in Rehabilitation (USA).


Founding of Irish Medical Humanities Network (Ireland)


Adoption of National Center for Education Statistics CIP Code 51.3204 (USA)


Launch of HHCJobs; HHC-Rice Medical Futures Lab Syllabus Repository Launched; AAMC The Fundamental Role of the Arts and Humanities in Medical Education (FRAHME) report released (USA); Release of HHC ToolkitAustralasian Health & Medical Humanities Network launched; Healing Arts Symposium, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, World Health Organization (WHO) Arts & Health Organization


Launch of HHC Awards; Adoption of new HHC Logo; Balhara, Kamna S, Antiracism in Health Professions Education Through the Lens of the Health Humanities, Anesthesiology Clinics, vol. 40, no.2, (June 2022); Friedman, Lester & Therese Jones eds (2022). Routledge Handbook of Media and Health.

2023Berry, S.L., Klugman, C.M., Adams, C.A., Williams A., Camodeca G.M., Leavelle T.N., Lamb E.G. (2023). Health Humanities: A Baseline Survey of Baccalaureate and Graduate Programs in North AmericaJ Med Humanithttps://doi.org/10.1007/s10912-023-09790-5

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