Constructing the Medical Humanities gaze

Marco Annoni, Giuseppe Schiavone, Luca Chiapperino, Giovanni Boniolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the last few decades genomics has completely reshaped the way in which patients and physicians experience and make sense of illness. In this paper we build upon a real case - namely that of breast cancer genetic testing - in order to point to the shortcomings of the paradigm currently driving healthcare delivery. In particular, we put forward a viable analytical model for the construction of a proper decisional process broadening the scope of medical gaze onto human experience of illness. This model revolves around four main conceptual axes: (i) communicating information; (ii) informing decisions; (iii) respecting narratives; (iv) empowering decision-making. These four kernels, we argue, map precisely onto the main pitfalls of the model presently dealing with genetic testing provision. Medical Humanities, we conclude, ought to play a pivotal role in constructing the environment for competent decision-making, autonomous self-determination and respectful narritivization of one's own life.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology
Issue numberSUPPL.2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 31 2012


  • Autonomy
  • Breast cancer
  • Decision-making
  • Empowerment
  • Genetic susceptibility
  • Information provision
  • Medical Humanities
  • Narrative medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Hematology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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