Theoretical Medicine

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 221–229 | Cite as

The educational philosophies behind the medical humanities programs in the United States: An empirical assessment of three different approaches to humanistic medical education

  • Donnie J. Self
Article

Abstract

This study investigates the three major educational philosophies behind the medical humanities programs in the United States. It summarizes the characteristics of the Cultural Transmission Approach, the Affective Developmental Approach, and the Cognitive Developmental Approach. A questionnaire was sent to 415 teachers of medical humanities asking for their perceptions of the amount of time and effort devoted by their programs to these three philosophical approaches. The 234 responses constituted a 54.6% return. The approximately 80:20 gender ratio of males to females and other demographic data on age and educational background were consistent with other studies of the field of medical humanities.

Reflections on the results in Table II indicate that some changes need to take place in the teaching of the medical humanities if the perceived ideal is to be achieved. In order for the current teachers of the medical humanities to think that the appropriate philosophies behind the teaching of the medical humanities are being implemented as they should be, much less time and effort need to be devoted to the Cultural Transmission Approach. With no other published reports on the educational philosophies behind the medical humanities programs, this study created a new knowledge base about this relatively young and rapidly emerging field.

Key words

educational philosophies empirical assessment humanistic medical education evaluation 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donnie J. Self
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Humanities in Medicine, Philosophy, and Pediatrics, College of MedicineTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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