Health humanities: A democratizing future beyond medical humanities




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In this chapter we will describe what we mean by ‘health humanities,’ a term – and a movement – which we have been promoting over the last decade, and discuss how this extends and develops the traditional concerns of the medical humanities, using examples from our own work. Over the last ten years, the field of health humanities has developed and been defined and characterised (Crawford et al 2010; Jones et al 2014; Crawford et al 2015; Crawford et al forthcoming). This has provided an alternative vision and platform for a more inclusive, democratised, medical and non-medical application of the arts and humanities to enhance healthcare, health and wellbeing. It is a field that aims to foreground the potential benefits of applied humanities as much as applied arts. In so doing, the field of health humanities subsumes the various unipolar initiatives in arts in health or expressive therapies and the specialist field of medical humanities. For us, the field of health humanities comprises an over-arching, defining and dynamic body of work that incorporates, and is not solely aligned with, the subfields of medical humanities, arts in health and expressive therapies.



health humanities, medical humanities, creative practice, recovery


Crawford, P. and Brown, B. (2019) Health humanities: A democratizing future beyond medical humanities. In: Bleakley, A. (Ed.) Routledge handbook of the medical humanities, London: Routledge, pp.401–409


Research Institute

Institute of Health, Health Policy and Social Care
Mary Seacole Research Centre