Storying stories

  • Ad A. Kaptein | Section Medical Psychology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, Netherlands.
  • Antonia C. Lyons School of Psychology, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand.
  • A. Scott Pearson Department of Surgery, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville TN, United States.
  • Sjaak van der Geest Department of Sociology and Medical Anthropology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
  • Joost Haan Department of Neurology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, and Rijnland Hospital, Leiderdorp, Netherlands.
  • Frans Meulenberg Department of Medical Ethics and Philosophy of Medicine, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, Netherlands.
  • Joshua M. Smyth Departments of Biobehavioral Health and Medicine, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, United States.


In many countries courses on Literature and Medicine (LitMed) are part of the medical curriculum, to develop and teach knowledge and skills in the area of Medical Humanities. We describe a LitMed course designed to encourage medical students at a university medical center to incorporate the biopsychosocial model into their clinical skills. A LitMed course for medical students is described and contextualized within the field of medical humanities with a focus on biopsychosocial responses to illness. The components of the course are presented, along with details of specific relevant novels employed, other study materials, and assignment examples. Preliminary evidence for positive course outcomes included students publishing peer reviewed papers, and enthusiastic faculty response. The course also led to renewed initiatives to incorporate LitMed in the medical curriculum. Suggestions for future teaching activities in this area are provided. Teaching a LitMed course is feasible, strengthens the adoption of a biopsychosocial approach in medical students, and is evaluated positively by students and staff from medical schools.



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Literature & Medicine, Medical Humanities, medical students, biopsychosocial medicine, novels
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How to Cite
Kaptein, A. A., Lyons, A. C., Pearson, A. S., van der Geest, S., Haan, J., Meulenberg, F., & Smyth, J. M. (2012). Storying stories. Medical Education Development, 2(1), e7.