On the importance of storytelling in medicine

Stanford Medicine  April 20, 2017


Data Needs Narrative: Communicating Science to the Public

Science is complex. And like many professionals in fields with their own terms unknown to the general public, medical researchers often have difficulty explaining their research to the public. However, stories can animate data.

Dhruv Khullar, a resident in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and a contributing writer to the New York Times, spoke of the importance of storytelling in health care in his closing keynote at Medicine X | ED. He sited a three step framework developed by Harvard professor Marshall Ganz, an expert in the use of story to inspire change. Each step involves story:

  1. Story of self: Describe why you decided to research this particular issue.
  2. Story of us: Describe why this research relates to your listeners.
  3. Story of now: Describe why this issue must be solved as soon as possible.
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