In 2004, the New England Journal of Medicine endorsed the importance of storytelling in medicine in its issue of February 26, 2004. The NEJM article by Professor Rita Charon argued that health care professionals and patients are increasingly recognizing the importance of the stories they tell one another of illness. This is not only a diagnosis encoded in the narratives patients tell of symptoms, but also deep and therapeutically consequential understandings of the persons who bear symptoms are made possible in the course of hearing the narratives told of illness.
Last Thursday, the New York Times reported: “Despite the ubiquitousness of storytelling in medicine, research on its effects in the clinical setting has remained relatively thin. Now The Annals of Internal Medicine has published the results of a provocative new trial examining the effects of storytelling on patients with high blood pressure. And it appears that at least for one group of patients, listening to personal narratives helped control high blood pressure as effectively as the addition of more medications.”
Read the New York Times article here.
To learn more about the power of storytelling, read the new edition of my book, The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling (2nd edition, March 2011)