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HSCL Wellness: Health Humanities

Health Humanities

We define health humanities in line with the definition on New York University's Literature, Arts and Medicine Database  "We define the term "medical humanities" broadly to include an interdisciplinary field of humanities (literature, philosophy, ethics, history and religion), social science (anthropology, cultural studies, psychology, sociology), and the arts (literature, theater, film, multimedia and visual arts) and their application to healthcare education and practice. The humanities and arts provide insight into the human condition, suffering, personhood, and our responsibility to each other. They also offer a historical perspective on healthcare. Attention to literature and the arts helps to develop and nurture skills of observation, analysis, empathy, and self-reflection -- skills that are essential for humane healthcare. The social sciences help us to understand how bioscience and medicine take place within cultural and social contexts and how culture interacts with the individual experience of illness and the way healthcare is practiced." 

In addition, the study of arts and health is focused more specifically on the use of the arts in the clinical context- "The arts are now being used within healthcare institutions worldwide.  The international arts in medicine movement represents a rediscovery of the links between body, mind and spirit and of the unity between the creative and medical arts.   It recognizes and advocates the role of the imagination and creativity in developing and maintaining health.  Specific applications may include workshops for health maintenance for healthcare givers or other healthy or non-hospitalized participants, bringing the arts into the hospital environment through exhibitions and/or performances, providing arts activities and workshops for patients, family members and staff, and artists facilitating creativity with patients on an individual basis."

Key texts in the health humanities

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