Narrative Matters--The Book
The Power of the Personal Essay in Health Policy
Edited by Fitzhugh Mullan, Ellen Ficklen, and Kyna Rubin
(Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006)
This anthology brings together the personal stories of patients, physicians, policy makers, and others whose writings humanize discussions and deliberations about health policy. Drawn from the popular "Narrative Matters" column in Health Affairs, the essays epitomize the policy narrative, a new genre of writing that explores health policy through the expression of personal experiences. Forty-six articles focus on such topics as the hard financial realities of medical insurance, AIDS, assisted suicide, marketing drugs, genetic engineering, aging, organ transplants, and ethnic and racial disparities in the health care system. The narratives raise ethical and moral issues that are being studied in many of our nation's medical schools. This compelling collection provides important insight into the human dimensions of health care and health policy.
"The power of these narratives shakes the reader, who cannot but apprehend health care from a new, individual perspective and commit him- or herself to make their part of the system better and more sensitive."
--Ezekiel J. Emanuel, M.D., Ph.D.
"To begin to understand the many challenges facing the U.S. health care system, you could spend years in the shadow of doctors, patients, medical students, and legislators. Or you could just read this book. Narrative Matters opens a window into what's happening in American medicine through the minds and pens of those in the middle of it all. At times insightful, depressing, uplifting, and direct, Narrative Matters accomplishes a rare feat--a book as well-written as it is necessary."
--Joshua M. Sharfstein, M.D.,
Baltimore City Commissioner of Health
"Narrative Matters showcases some of health care's most stunning writing. The stories are moving, eloquent, and often unforgettable."
--Atul Gawande, M.D.,
author of Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science
"For any reader enthralled by the literature of medicine, these fascinating, compelling, and beautifully written doctor stories were written expressly for you."
--Howard Markel, M.D., Ph.D.,
The University of Michigan Medical School,
author of When Germs Travel and Quarantine!
"Narrative does matter. That’s why these writers are so successful in making the reader feel and respond to their frustration, anger, pain, sadness, confusion, joy, or loving kindness by writing personal narratives of health care. Had they addressed us on a purely intellectual level, we might have developed a clearer idea about how to create a more equitable health care system, but we’d have less motivation, less passion, for the task. Narrative Matters is a splendid achievement. This wonderful collection will make a big difference in the way the reader thinks about many of the important issues facing health care today. I suspect this book will do a great deal to enhance public awareness of the human stories at the center of our U.S. health care system."
--Jack Coulehan, M.D., M.P.H.,
Institute for Medicine in Contemporary Society,
State University of New York at Stony Brook,
and co-editor of Primary Care: More Poems by Physicians
"A doctor kneels on a highway and watches a child die from a completely preventable accident, as the boy's father wails, "Wake up, my son!” A baby dies because of language barriers and bureaucracy in the clinic. A nurse quits in despair, stopped by the system from doing the right thing. A governor makes a wrenching choice between a world-class transplant program and basic care for 600,000 people. If these true stories of needless tragedy don't convince you our health care system is broken, you must have a heart of stone."
--Melvin J. Konner, Ph.D., M.D.,
author of Becoming a Doctor: A Journey of Initiation in Medical School
"Narrative Matters shows how health care policies affect real people. Policy loves charts and statistics. These stories fill in the conflicts, the emotions, the frequent pain and occasional joys of being somewhere on one of those charts. Numbers make no moral demands on us; only faces require a response. In these stories, we see the faces that health care policy is all about."
--Arthur W. Frank, Ph.D.,
University of Calgary, author of The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics and The Renewal of Generosity: Illness, Medicine, and How to Live
"This compilation is unique ... because of its strong relevance to today's health policy ... These narratives matter."
--Galit M. Sacajiu, JAMA
About The Editors
Fitzhugh Mullan, M.D., is Murdock Head Professor of Medicine and Health Policy and professor of pediatrics at the George Washington University; he is a contributing editor at Health Affairs and editor of its "Narrative Matters" section.
Ellen Ficklen was a senior editor at Health Affairs and co-editor of "Narrative Matters."
Kyna Rubin is an independent writer and the former co-editor of "Narrative Matters."
- From the Founding Editor
- Entry Point: Aging With HIV
- ACA: More HIV Testing
- Non-Expansion States And HIV
- Lives Saved By Early Treatment
- Cost Savings And Early Treatment
- Targeting Resources For Prevention
- Survey: HIV Testing In Jails
- ACA Can Help The Jail-Involved
- The ACA And Healthier Jail Populations
- Overcoming Barriers To Post-Jail Care
- Using HIT To Improve Jail Health Delivery
- Narrative Matters: Life Beyond Jail Walls
- View Table of Contents »
- Physicians’ Concerns About Electronic Health Records: Implications And Steps Towards Solutions 11 Mar 2014
- Ethical Dilemmas In Prison And Jail Health Care 10 Mar 2014
- Implementing Health Reform: Basic Health Program And More ACA Litigation Results 10 Mar 2014
- Howard Koh To Keynote Health Affairs Briefing Tomorrow On ACA And HIV/AIDS 10 Mar 2014
- Good Palliative Care Requires Good Long-Term Care: A Medicare Strategy To Strengthen Both 10 Mar 2014
- Sustainability and Growth in Funding for Drug Treatment Courts 11 Mar 2014
- Elevating the Role of the Medical Assistant 03 Mar 2014
- New Orleans Health Department Transformation: the Role of Philanthropy in Supporting Change 27 Feb 2014
- Improving Successful Project Completion: Lessons Learned from the Global Health Partnerships Program 24 Feb 2014
- A World of Darkness: What If Thomas Edison Had to Write Grant Proposals to Invent the Light Bulb? 18 Feb 2014
Now Playing Health Affairs-Kaiser Health News Media Breakfast with Governor Mike Beebe (D-Arkansas)Briefing February 24, 2014
- Aging With HIV March 05, 2014
- Michael J. Ashe - "To Improve Public Health And Safety, One Sheriff Looks Beyond The Jail Walls" Narrative Matters March 03, 2014
- Health Reform Implementation: February 2014 Update February 25, 2014
- Health Affairs-Kaiser Health News Media Breakfast with Governor Mike Beebe (D-Arkansas) Event February 24, 2014
- How Text Messages Can Help Diabetic Patients February 06, 2014
- Early Evidence, Future Promise Of Connected Health February 05, 2014
- Health Affairs-Kaiser Health News Media Breakfast with Governor Mike Beebe (D-Arkansas) February 24, 2014
- Early Evidence, Future Promise Of Connected Health February 05, 2014
- A Briefing with CMS' National Health Expenditures Accounts Team January 06, 2014
- The Future Of Emergency Medicine: Challenges And Opportunities December 04, 2013
- What The Affordable Care Act Means For People With Jail Stays
- The Critical Link Between Health Care And Jails
- The ACA Opens The Door For Two Vulnerable Populations
- Integrating Correctional And Community Health Care For Formerly Incarcerated People Who Are Eligible For Medicaid
- Medicaid Expansion: Considerations For States Regarding Newly Eligible Jail-Involved Individuals
- Connected Health: A Review Of Technologies And Strategies To Improve Patient Care With Telemedicine And Telehealth
- Connected Health And The Rise Of The Patient-Consumer
- New Neighborhood Grocery Store Increased Awareness Of Food Access But Did Not Alter Dietary Habits Or Obesity
- Telehealth: Seven Strategies To Successfully Implement Disruptive Technology And Transform Health Care
- Mobile Phone Diabetes Project Led To Improved Glycemic Control And Net Savings For Chicago Plan Participants