Public Humanities at WesternWestern Arts and Humanities

Stories of Illness and Health


Have you or anyone you know experienced chronic or acute illness? How does the art of storytelling work to improve health care education and the experience of patient care? In what ways are doctors, patients and other health professionals storytellers? How can researchers, educators, students, and members of the greater public work together to produce compassionate approaches to patient-centred care? Stories of Health and Illness invites members of the public, both campus and community, to join us to experience the stories of people living with illness. Through stories shared by participants who have dealt with chronic or acute conditions, audience members will hear first-hand accounts of what is important to patients throughout their health care experience. Following each story, we will invite the audience to reflect on their experience of each narrative and engage in an open dialogue with our storytellers.

Supported by an interdisciplinary partnership between the Narrative Medicine Initiative (NMI) in the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, the School for Advanced Studies in the Arts and Humanities (SASAH), The Public Humanities at Western (PHW),  the London Public Library, and the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), the aim of this medical humanities project is threefold:

1) to organize four public engagement events featuring reflective stories by patients experiencing chronic illness, with an opportunity afterwards for the audience to engage in an open dialogue with the presenters; 

2) to study the emotional and psychological impact of public storytelling on patient-storytellers, as well as the engagement of the public audience who witness these narratives of illness; 

3) to edit together video coverage of the engagement events and individual interviews with both patients and audience members to produce a curated video archive of Stories of Health on an open-access, online platform hosted by Western University. The digital platform will serve as an educational tool for training new practitioners in compassionate modes of patient care, as a source of primary material for researchers and scholars, and as a forum for broader citizen participation in the health system.

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View Pat Davis' story from the last session of Stories of Illness and Health (November 2013).