Evidence-Based Medicine and Narrative Medicine: A Harmonic Couple

  • Maria Giulia Marini


The battled and passionate relationship between William Shakespeare’s characters Petrucho and Catharina in the Taming of The Shrew is perhaps the most fitting analogy to portray Narrative medicine in today’s era of evidence medicine. The story of two lovers, so different and determined in keeping their own identity, and who, despite the odds, achieve a state of harmony, which acts as an elevating force—for both as they become husband and wife—and irradiates onto everything surrounding them. As the plot develops, we see an intense love affair between the impulsive and defiant Catharina and the bold Petrucho, who seeks to conquer the object of his desire by acting as a mad man—living above social conventions and protocols, yet never being brutal towards her. Likewise, Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) might resemble the social duty of marriage (a value that at the beginning of the plot may be embodied by Petrucho); Narrative Medicine (Catharina), with its bizarre and lateral paradigm of thought and behaviour, is able to look outside the box. It will be the marriage of these two characters after a story of oddness, fights, and peace which will give rise to the “perfect couple”, in a form of conciliation of two paradigms of thoughts which at first sight appeared so different.


Evidence-Based Medicine Clinical trials Decision-making tools Individual care Knowledge management Narrative medicine 


  1. Charon R (1993) Medical interpretation: implications of literary theory of narrative for clinical work. J Narrat Life Hist 3:79–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Evans JG (1995) Evidence-based and evidence-biased medicine. Age Ageing 24(6):461–463PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Evidence-Based Medicine Working Group (1992) Evidence-based medicine. A new approach to teaching the practice of medicine. JAMA 268(17):2420–2425CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Feinstein A (1967) Clinical judgment. Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore, MDGoogle Scholar
  5. Genette G (1980) Narrative discourse: an essay in method. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, Lewin J, transGoogle Scholar
  6. Goldman J, Shih TL (2011) The limitations of evidence-based medicine—applying population-based recommendations to individual patients. J Ethics 13(1):26–30Google Scholar
  7. Greenhalgh T (1999) Narrative based medicine in an evidence based world. BMJ 318(7179):323–325PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Greenhalgh T (2014) Is evidence-based medicine broken? Project Syndicate: the world’s opinion page 2014. Accessed 28 Apr 2015
  9. Groopman J (1998) The measure of our days: a spiritual exploration of illness. Penguin, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  10. Howick J (2015) A new generation of bias in EBM. Accessed 28 Apr 2015
  11. Marini MG, Arreghini L (2012) Medicina Narrativa per una Sanità Sostenibile. Edizioni Lupetti, MilanoGoogle Scholar
  12. Marini M, Reale L, Cappuccio A et al (2014) Narrative medicine to highlight values of Italian pain therapists in a changing healthcare system. Pain Manag 4(5):351–362 (Review)PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Turner E, Matthews A, Linardatos E et al (2008) Selective publication of antidepressant trials and its influence on apparent efficacy. N Engl J Med 358:252–260PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Editorial Board of the Economist, How science goes wrong: Scientific research has changed the world. Now it needs to change itself. The Economist 2013. October 19 (News article)Google Scholar
  15. Sackett DL, Haynes RB (eds) (1976) Compliance with therapeutic regimens. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MDGoogle Scholar
  16. Spiro HM, Curnen MGM, Peschel E (1993) Empathy and the practice of medicine: beyond pills and the scalpel. Yale University Press, New Haven, CTGoogle Scholar
  17. Symborska W (1989) The Joy of writingGoogle Scholar
  18. Weine SM (1996) The witnessing imagination: social trauma, creative artists, and witnessing professionals. Lit Med 15:167–182PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Giulia Marini
    • 1
  1. 1.Research and Health Care DirectorFondazione ISTUDMilanItaly

Personalised recommendations