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Dignity and Narrative Medicine


Critiques of the dehumanising aspects of contemporary medical practice have generated increasing interest in the ways in which health care can foster a holistic sense of wellbeing. We examine the relationship between two areas of this humanistic endeavour: narrative and dignity. This paper makes two simple arguments that are intuitive but have not yet been explored in detail: that narrative competence of carers is required for maintaining or recreating dignity, and that dignity promotion in health care practice is primarily narrative in form. The multiple meanings that dignity has in a person’s life are what give the concept power and can only be captured by narrative. This has implications for health care practice where narrative work will be increasingly required to support patient dignity in under-resourced and over-subscribed health care systems.

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Correspondence to Annie Parsons.

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Parsons, A., Hooker, C. Dignity and Narrative Medicine. Bioethical Inquiry 7, 345–351 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11673-010-9254-2

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  • Dignity
  • Narrative medicine
  • Narrative ethics
  • Health care