Rhetoric of Medicine and Health

Rhetorical medical approaches have helped healthcare researchers understand complex public health issues. Among them, narratives regarding patients or medical care are the most important. It helps navigate the different ideologies and presumptions that exist in the industry. Patient narratives are accounts of stories that patients expressed regarding their issues. Often recorded by nurses and psychologists, patient narratives are useful to understand people’s experiences and feelings, which guide change stimulus. Similar to any qualitative data, narratives are not entirely true but contain a particular percentage of it. However, despite their uncertainty or unreliability, narratives highlight important themes that highlight health problems and guide improvement processes. Therefore, patient rhetoric is crucial in understanding medicine and health in numerous ways, which are outcome dependent.

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The narrative concept entails the art of storytelling. Storytelling brings contextual relations between important aspects of the medical experience to a patient. Usually, the realms of health aim at providing a holistic approach to treatments, including physical, mental, religious, and social. Scientists understand that apart from physical, the other realms are intrinsic, meaning, a patient can express them. Besides, when explaining the source of a health problem, numerous factors apply, some of which are historical. This art forms a chronological order in the development of the health problem, which relies heavily on their feelings and body conditions. Although these stories can be exaggerated depending on a patient, it provides clear insights into the source of particular health problems. Similarly, storytelling improves the network, which is crucial for civic engagement. Civic engagements drive the interests of media into specific health topics, and thus prompts relevant parties to action. Therefore, storytelling in medicine and health enhances more understanding of the subject and its impacts.

Numerous ideological perspectives dominate the global health space due to different backgrounds. In the world, most people rely on beliefs and cultural norms to solve health problems. In professional health, scientific applications are crucial when explaining medicine. However, it does not mean ignoring cultural norms and beliefs. Personal identity is as good as their health, meaning that a healthy person should be all-rounded. They must have the right attitude towards medicine, and able to align their minds to their medications. Therefore, diversity of health needs exists and most ideologies have extreme variance from the modern norm. In that regard, there exists a need to provide a distinct platform for all patients to express themselves, their feelings, and diagnoses type of treatments they would like performed to them as an alternative to healthcare recommendations.

Unlike in the past, more people are aware of their health situations. This awareness is attributable to easy access to information on the internet. In that regard, the probability of being inquisitive of treatment processes is high. There exists the need for trust between the doctor and patient, which is reliant on communication. A patient must understand doctors to ensure that their opinions are not questionable. This level of understanding is attainable through doctors’ ultimate transparency in the health processes. Also, for physicians to develop good relationships with patients, they will show respect, empathy, and clinical competence (Chen, Chien, and San 17). However, it is difficult to develop the same level of empathy among health practitioners. Perhaps humanism, compassion, and empathy should be part of the medical practice through training. Several training types are focusing on promoting reflective thinking among physicians, which is directed to enhancing empathy.

Often, quantitative data is used to guide types and quantities of medication to be administered. Patient narratives provide understanding and insights to guide decision-making processes. Quality information in the surgery departments for example in cancer treatments is non-existent. Most outcomes in the department are influenced by academic credentials and ratings from the board. The power of narrative generates the anecdotes that patients rely on to trust a physician (Pallai & Kim 1). In a good conversation, a physician will look more grounded and genuine in their ideas, which also affects the way patients perceive them. Conventional medical evidence offers validation to medical procedures that are used to demystify patient’s experiences. Therefore, medical knowledge may rely on numerous parameters to guide evidence-based practices, which is obtainable from patients’ narratives.

In reconciling narrative and health science data, data gathering is important. In data gathering, physicians must observe three critical aspects, including representative population, confidentiality, and limitations on data sharing and generalization. These three aspects continue to challenge research methodologies in modern health science. In that regard, narrative analysis must remain a scientific point of reference and separate from conventional data for sharing systems. Most physicians will use this evidence to guide their approach to future patients with similar health problems. However, health challenges evolve continuously without a linear trace. Therefore, health professionals must bridge the gap between the available evidence and the developing one. This is attainable through continuously updating the database with patient information.

As established above, clinical interactions between physicians and patients are important ways to enhance the narrative. For a patient to feel sensible and appreciated, the health practitioner must listen before giving any advice. It helps to allow patients to express their emotions and feelings more coherently. As a result, physicians can collect import insights, which can guide the treatment processes. However, some health practitioners have expressed variance in ideologies and backgrounds among patients. For instance, language barriers and difference in expressions have become a major challenge in evidence medical practice. Nevertheless, scientists have provided workable solutions to clinical interactions. For instance, they suggested the use of translators and expression readers to help physician and patients understand each other. Although this option is not perfect, physician’s involvement and whole presence for the patient will bridge the gap that different barriers create (Prescott, Susan, and Alan 17). However, some common questions set the platform for a good conversation despite the barriers. For instance;

  • What do you hope to remember?
  • Have there been changes in your lifestyle? Finances? In your relationships?
  • What are some of the things that you cannot live without?
  • Who are the people that are most important now?

From the above questions, the patient can think through their life and come up with challenges they are facing as a person. In a conducive environment, it becomes a moment of self-reflection where one poses discreet questions to their inner-self. As they express and answer these questions, the physician can collect crucial information that will add on to quantitative data already collected (Le, Kara, and Juliet 306). Also, this information is useful to solve psychological problems among patients. This is done without detracting or interrupting quantitative health outcomes.

Quality of arguments in a narrative may also depend on other rhetoric concepts. Quality of data collected through storytelling is determined by the situations of both the physician and patient. It includes the ability of a patient to express, and the ability of the physician to listen. Medical text is hard to interpret, and quantitative data may not provide all the information needed to enhance a treatment procedure. Although metaphors, logos, pathos, and other rhetorical concepts may initiate more evidence, a thought-through narrative should navigate all the aspects of the health situation and seek to provide solutions.

Therefore, narrative can help healthcare providers dig deep into the patient’s health needs. Understanding structural changes in the health administration are essential for example to guide the healthcare procedures. Often, health practitioners are caught into thinking that they are the professionals and thus should guide the treatment processes. This notion is common in surgery and pharmacy departments in health centers. However, they must realize that as much as health is scientifically coordinated, it is highly dependent on intrinsic motivation. Most psychologists have observed that without the desire to heal and the desire to initiate the process of healing, patients may experience prolonged challenges despite taking impactful medicine. Often, the process of healing starts from the mind, which generates hormones and signals to the painful areas of the body. Therefore, relating well with patients and hear them talk out their health issues will help them clean up their minds. As a result, the patient accelerates the process of healing and establishes a strong dealing mechanism in their immune system, where medicine can support rebuilding of cells. This places narrative rhetoric concept as number one


Work Cited

Chen, Po-Jui, Chien-Da Huang, and San-Jou Yeh. “Impact of a narrative medicine program on healthcare providers’ empathy scores over time.” BMC medical education 17.1 (2017): 108.

Le, Annie, Kara Miller, and Juliet McMullin. “From particularities to context: refining our thinking on illness narratives.” AMA journal of ethics 19.3 (2017): 304-311.

Pallai, EmmaLee, and Kim Tran. “Narrative Health: Using Story to Explore Definitions of Health and Address Bias in Health Care.” The Permanente Journal 23 (2019).

Prescott, Susan L., and Alan C. Logan. “Narrative Medicine Meets Planetary Health: Mindsets Matter in the Anthropocene.” Challenges 10.1 (2019): 17.