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Health Humanities

This guide is designed to support the growing interdisciplinary field of health humanities and related topics. It includes links to relevant books, scholarly journals, library databases, and other resources.



Cultural Competence - "Cultural and linguistic competence is a set of congruent behaviors, knowledge, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, organization, or among professionals that enables effective work in cross-cultural situations." Association of American Medical Colleges. Cultural Competence Education. 2005.

Health Humanities - "The Health Humanities is the study of the intersection of health and humanistic disciplines (such as philosophy, religion, literature) and fine arts, as well as social science research (such as history, anthropology, sociology, and cultural studies), that gives insight to the human condition.  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." Health Humanities Consortium. About.

Health Literacy - "Health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions." U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Quick Guide to Health Literacy: Fact Sheet. 

Health Status Disparities - Health status disparities is defined as the "variation in rates of disease occurrence and disabilities between population groups defined by socioeconomic characteristics such as age, ethnicity, economic resources, or gender and populations identified geographically or similar measures."  National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Library of Medicine. Health status disparities. Medical Subject (MeSH) Index. 

Healthcare Disparities - Healthcare disparities is defined as the "differences in access to or availability of facilities and services." National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Library of Medicine.  Healthcare disparities. Medical Subject (MeSH) Index.

Interdisciplinary Research - "any study or group of studies undertaken by scholars from two or more distinct scientific disciplines.  The research is based upon a conceptual model that links or integrates theoretical frameworks from those disciplines, uses study design and methodology that is not limited to any one field, and requires the use of perspectives and skills of the involved disciplines throughout multiple phases of the research process."  Aboelela SW, Larson E, Bakken S, et al. Defining interdisciplinary research: Conclusions from a critical review of the literature. Health Service Research. 2007;42(1):329-346.

Narrative Medicine - Stories are integral to how people experience illness, healing, and healthcare.  Narrative medicine "addresses the need of patients and caregivers to voice their experience, to be heard and to be valued, and it acknowledges the power of narrative to change the way care is given and received." Columbia University, School of Professional Studies. Narrative Medicine. 2018.

Structural Competence - "We define structural competency as the trained ability to discern how a host of issues defined clinically as symptoms, attitudes, or diseases (e.g., depression, hypertension, obesity, smoking, medication "non-compliance," trauma, psychosis) also represent the downstream implications of a number of upstream decisions about such matters as health care and food delivery systems, zoning laws, urban and rural infrastructures, medicalization, or even about the very definitions of illness and health."  Metzl JM, Hansen H. Structural competency: Theorizing a new medical engagement with stigma and inequality. Soc Sci Med. 2017;103:126-33. 

Transdisciplinary Research - "research efforts conducted by investigators from different disciplines working jointly to create new conceptual, theoretical, methodological, and translational innovations that integrate and move beyond discipline-specific approaches to address a common problem."  Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. Definitions. Transdisciplinary Research in Energetics and Cancer Center. 2018


The Keywords Project is a collaborative research initiative investigating "key" words prominently used but also contested in social debate in English.  Different meanings available for each keyword, which vary both in specific sense and in evaluative implication, can confuse rather than progress discussion in which the word is used.  The project aims to contribute to our understanding of the processes involved in "public conversation" and civil society more widely by publishing short entries on approximately 100 such "keywords," along with a project archive of longer essays and materials, plus audio and video.  University of Pittsburgh and Jesus College, University of Cambridge. Keywords Project.

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