Narrative Medicine Applied: A Study Elucidating How One Neuro-Oncology Team Grapples with Distress

A study by Narrative Medicine CPA alumnx Kathy Riley & colleagues.

June 26, 2024

Absorbing the cumulative weight of neuro-oncology patient stories in isolation leads providers to experience burnout and distress that some in our study called “debilitating.” Sands, Stanley, & Charon (2008) describe the field of pediatric oncology as one that “taunts professionals with the random unfairness” of grave childhood illness. They reason that clinicians in this demanding field may benefit from narrative training to build empathy, teamwork, and resilience. Narrative medicine is a rigorous and evidence-based field of study that utilizes the method of close reading of literature and art to engage providers in discussion and personal reflection. In narrative medicine workshops, participants immerse themselves in a text or image, contemplate their experiences and their relation to the text, write in response to a prompt, and share their writings with one another (Charon, et al., 2017) (See study here).