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Narrative Medicine

A group of people sitting near large windows talking.

Narrative medicine sessions encourage patients to rediscover personal identity and meaning by telling or writing their stories.

Attentive listening is at the heart of these sessions. You will be invited to share your experiences of illness and treatment, sources of strength, new insights or perspectives during treatment, and hopes for the future. You may also share your concerns and sources of conflict during treatment.

As you share your unique experiences, a narrative medicine facilitator will help to tease out important details and insights that you can use to cope with your diagnosis and recover mentally.

  • What happens during a narrative medicine session?

    Narrative medicine sessions usually take place in a patient’s hospital room or at a treatment or infusion center.

    During the session, the narrative medicine facilitator will ask a few simple questions to learn more about your story and will help direct the conversation. You are always welcome to focus on a particular concern, issue or memory.

  • How does narrative medicine help patients' families?

    Facing illness and treatment can be a challenging journey for you and your loved ones.

    Through the narrative medicine process, you may be better able to share the story of your treatment journey with your family, friends and care providers, leading to a feeling of greater support from those who are most important in your life.

  • What are the benefits of narrative medicine?

    Narrative medicine has been shown to help release emotional and physical pain and encourage overall well-being; offer nonpharmacological pain management; and encourage the trust and rapport between you and your treatment team, improving communication and promoting patient cooperation and outcomes.

    Narrative medicine can help you understand your illness and healthcare journey in the context of your entire life story. Some patients gain new perspectives on their illness and treatment by putting their experiences into words.

    Narrating these experiences may also help you discover connections between the journey of treatment and your own beliefs. Patients often come away from narrative work with a clearer sense of personal meaning and direction.

  • Schedule an appointment

    Narrative medicine sessions are available for UK HealthCare patients and their families.

    While we primarily work with cancer patients at the UK Markey Cancer Center, we also work with other specialties at UK HealthCare including heart care patients and those in the Kentucky Children’s Hospital.

    For more information about narrative medicine or to schedule an appointment for a narrative medicine session, contact Narrative Medicine Program Coordinator Robert Slocum, PhD, at 859-323-4325 (HEAL) or robert.slocum@uky.edu.

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