Constructing the Medical Humanities gaze

Marco Annoni, Giuseppe Schiavone, Luca Chiapperino, Giovanni Boniolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


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

Cite this

Annoni, M., Schiavone, G., Chiapperino, L., & Boniolo, G. (2012). Constructing the Medical Humanities gaze. Critical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology, 84(SUPPL.2).