a graphic featuring the headshots of Elisabeth Guthrie and Rita Charon

Disability and narrative medicine: Challenges and opportunities

By Elisabeth Guthrie, M.D. and Rita Charon, M.D., Ph.D.

July 17, 2023

Despite decades of international entreaties for improvement, education about and provision of healthcare for people with disabilities remains harmfully inferior to that of the non-disabled population. Many obstacles confound efforts to ameliorate this inequity, perhaps the most pernicious of which is negative bias on the part of providers. Narrative medicine offers a means to address healthcare attitudes towards people with disabilities, in particular negative attitudes based on ‘ableism’. Through absorbing, writing, and sharing of diverse perspectives, narrative medicine kindles imagination and empathy, promoting self-reflection. This approach enriches the students' capacity to absorb what their patients are trying to say, and to appreciate, respect, and hopefully meet the healthcare needs of people with disability. (Read the paper here.)