By PAULINE W. CHEN, M.D.
Published: February 10, 2011
Patients and doctors have long understood the power of telling and listening to personal narratives. Whether among patients in peer support groups or between doctors and patients in the exam room or even between doctors during consultations, stories are an essential part of how we communicate, interpret experiences and incorporate new information into our lives. Despite the ubiquitousness of storytelling in medicine, research on its effects in the clinical setting has remained relatively thin. While important, a vast majority of studies have been anecdotal , offering up neither data nor statistics but rather — you guessed it — stories to back up the authors’ claims. Now The Annals of Internal Medicine has published the results of a provocative new trial examining the effects of storytelling on patients with high blood pressure. And it appears that at least for one group of patients, listening to personal narratives helped control high blood pressure as effectively as the addition of more medications... (via Brice Royer)