Medical humanities uses ideas, tools and methods from disciplines such as history, art, philosophy, theology and literature to help create innovative strategies for understanding and improving health and healthcare. Drawing on sources that typically cut across and complement prevailing modes of health-related thinking, the field seeks to explore the social and cultural context surrounding the purposes and challenges of medicine and healthcare. Decisions about whom to treat or when to treat them, how to prevent disease, and how to fund and develop health services cannot be made on the basis of science alone. They remain contentious ethical and political judgements, reflecting economic realities, contested histories, cultural norms, future aspirations and socially-conditioned perceptions of risk. Medical and health humanities brings these judgments to light and enables us to examine them critically.
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