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Image of report cover for 'Overcoming barriers to progress in medical humanities research'

A new report has been published which examines the barriers facing medical humanities researchers and identifies strategies for the future development of the field.

The Institute for Medical Humanities (IMH) at Durham University commissioned this report to explore the challenges currently faced by researchers and collaborators at all career stages and to identify areas of best practice. Authored by Sarah McLusky, the report draws on interviews with international experts to address five key themes: research culture; developing people; doing medical humanities research; engagement; and equality and diversity.  

IMH Director Prof Angela Woods said: “The medical and health humanities is now firmly established as a vibrant and growing field of interdisciplinary research. This report will be essential reading for anyone interested in how we can work together to make it more effective as well as more inclusive, especially for early career researchers.” 

“Identifying difficulties within our own field is neither easy nor comfortable but it is the only way we can begin to tackle them,” says IMH Co-Director Corinne Saunders. “This is a report that as well as identifying barriers offers real life opportunities, many rooted in the partnerships, collaborative practices and frameworks for thinking we have built up over many years, and the values we have placed at the forefront of our research at IMH.” 

Reflecting on the research and writing process Sarah said: “I was particularly struck by how deeply medical humanities researchers believe in the potential of their work. They know it could make a real difference in the world and want it to be more widely recognised. Many of the issues raised are common concerns in academia but there are other, more nuanced issues, where even small changes in practice could be really transformational. I hope this report might be a small step on that journey.”    

The Institute for Medical Humanities is using findings from this research to inform and help shape future programmes of work, with a strong emphasis on diversifying the field, training and capacity building in interdisciplinary and cross-sector collaboration and developing a supportive and inclusive research culture.  

Read or download the full report ‘Overcoming barriers to medical humanities research’.