Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Health and wellbeing research – medical humanities

Medical humanities covers a range of approaches that apply the arts and humanities to health and social care, and health and wellbeing practices. The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) research helps us to learn from the past about how to improve current and future practices.

Partners involved:
Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Wellcome Trust

The scope and what we're doing

Medical humanities covers a range of perspectives and approaches that apply the arts and humanities to health and social care and wellbeing practices.

This can for example, include the history of medicine and the use of arts therapies in:

  • healthcare
  • narrative medicine
  • philosophical perspectives
  • cultural aspects of healthcare.

Why we're doing it

Medical humanities can help put the human experience into medicine and healthcare, and help us to learn lessons from the past about how to improve current and future practices.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

AHRC has supported a wide range of projects in the medical and health humanities area.

Medical humanities medal

In 2018, AHRC, in association with the Wellcome Trust, launched the Health Humanities Medal competition which sought to highlight work in this area across five categories:

  • best research
  • best doctoral or early career research
  • best international research
  • inspiration award
  • leadership award.

Read about the 2020 Medical Humanities Award winners.

Case studies

Living with dying: everyday cultures of dying within family life in Britain, from the 1900s to the 1950s

The Living with Dying project explored what history can tell us about dying, grief, bereavement and remembering, moving death away from medical practitioners and undertakers, to families and individuals. In looking at how death and dying was discussed in day-to-day life, the project provided valuable resources for bereavement charities and public health teams as well as historians.

Medical care during the First World War

AHRC funded research into medical care during the First World War and how hospitals managed the influx of injured soldiers.

Visualising the conditions and experiences of seizures

AHRC funded a project about visualising the conditions and experiences of seizures, where art has been used to contribute to our understanding of illness and medicine.

Other projects

Read about best doctoral or early career research nominations – a selection of medical humanities projects that have been supported by AHRC.

Last updated: 21 November 2022

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