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Reading and writing for healers

Zsuzsa Horvath, Cynthia Salter, Judith Resick, Xiaohan Fan, Tanvi Mehta, Gaetan Sgro, Peter Trachtenberg


Aims, background and objectives: A growing body of research demonstrates that teaching close-reading and reflective writing to clinicians improves their ability to provide patient- and person-centered care. Through narrative medicine workshops, providers gain skills that can improve relationships with patients, increase empathy among clinicians and enhance clinical care. The goal of the event series (book discussion and reflective writing sessions) offered at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine, USA was to provide participants an interactive opportunity to practise and reflect upon the basic tenets of narrative medicine.

Methods: The objectives were to recognize how a written text can inform and enhance empathetic and humanistic thinking and to develop an increased appreciation for the importance of humanistic thinking in healthcare. The goal of this article was to share the outcomes of a unique program, which was offered in an interprofessional setting and organized by collaborators across disciplines within and outside of the healthcare professions. To evaluate the overall effectiveness of the introductory presentation, book discussion and reflective writing sessions, anonymous surveys were employed to study participants’ perception about the role of literature in healthcare, the role of reflection in the provision of care and insights gained in the sessions.

Results: The study revealed overwhelmingly positive responses by the participants to the programming. Qualitative data analysis revealed multiple areas of learning.

Discussion and Conclusion: Due to the success of the workshop series, the School of Dental Medicine will offer the event again and expects it to become a sustained yearly event that fosters collaborations across different schools of the University.


Burnout, clinical interaction, empathy, humanistic thinking in healthcare, humanities workshop, narrative medicine, one-book discussion, patient-centered care, patient-provider interaction, person-centered healthcare, provider-patient relationship

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