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Patient and Healthcare Professional Narratives

This guide discusses the importance of healthcare narratives and directs users to the appropriate resources to learn more about them.

Patient and Healthcare Narratives

Illness narratives, written either by patients who are suffering from an illness, or from the healthcare professionals who care for them, focus on subjects many people would rather avoid like the nature of death, and the destruction of the human body. However, these stories can teach us invaluable lessons about the reality of living with disease or disorder. Narratives written by patients can provide consolation to others suffering from illness as prompt healthcare practitioners to reflect on how they relate to their patients. Likewise, narratives from practitioners can be a useful tool to students and other professionals to enrich their understanding of their own work.

Tig Notaro: "Hello, I have Cancer."

"Why More Patients Should Blog About Illness and Death."

The world of illness narratives has been changed enormously by the internet. The experiences of patients and their families can be shared with friends, family, and health sciences professionals literally as they happen. Patients benefit from sharing and venting their feelings, and making connections to individuals in similar situations.

This news story from NPR, "Why More Patients Should Blog About Illness and Death", includes comments from medical practitioners about the value of keeping in touch with feelings during traumatic illnesses.

This journal article, "How End-of-Life Blogs Re-Affirm the "Power to be Oneself" also provides clinical evidence that those battling disease may find comfort in writing or reading blogs about illness.


Patient Quote

I felt as if my illness were a blanket the world had thrown over me; all that could be seen from the outside was an indistinguishable lump. And somehow I transformed that blanket into a tent, beneath which I almost happily set up camp. I had no sense of how my life was supposed to be, only of how it was.

  • Lucy Grealy, Autobiography of a Face (1994)