Medical Humanities Resources: Visual, Performed, Oral and Written Stories of Illness

One of the primary aims of this blog is to enable quicker and easier communication between the providers and users of medical humanities resources. One of the most important of these types of resources focus on the importance of the stories and experiences of those affected by illness. Sometimes the aim in recording these stories – whether through interviews, in painting and photographs, through performance or documentary filming- is, quite simply, to help those affected by serious illness to articulate their stories and, sometimes but not always, to be witnessed.  

At other times the stories generated in this way serve a further purpose: either to help others to reflect on and understand their own illness journeys, or to facilitate better understanding by others- including family members, professional caregivers and policy makers-of what it means to live with and die from a particular condition.

There are too many of these excellent organisations for me to highlight more than a few. To my brief list I therefore invite you to add others so that these important resources can be more widely shared.

The MAP Foundation

In 2002, professional artist and cancer sufferer Michele Angelo Petrone founded the MAP Foundation. The MAP Foundation promotes expression, communication and understanding of the emotional aspects of serious illness and dying. MAP’s excellent resources – both art and books-have been used with great success by students, doctors and patients around the world. Sadly, Michele is no longer with us, but his work and his inspiration continue.

To find out more and to view the Emotional Cancer Journey and the Touching the Rainbow exhibitions visit the MAP web site.

Rosetta Life

Rosetta life is a charity that uses art as a medium to enable people affected by terminal illness to express themselves in whatever way they wish. The core of Rosetta Life’s work is artist-led residencies in hospices with local artists working either one-to-one with hospice users or with groups of users. The aim is to enable people to find their creative voice, and to maintain their sense of identity and individuality, at what can be a very disempowering stage of life.

Rosetta Life hosts annual celebration events marking the successful completion of artistic projects and to celebrate the stories that have been told and shared.

The Rosetta Collection is a fantastic collection of videos with huge educational potential.


Dipex- a database of personal experiences of illness and health- is what it says: a database through which individuals affected by illness talk about their experiences. The database is structured such that users can access those parts of the stories of most interest to them. Set up by a group of academics in Oxford it is well worth a visit for both patients and health care professionals.

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