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Institute for Medical Humanities

News

Life of Breath wins Inspiration Award at the inaugural Health Humanities Medal awards

(12 September 2018)

Havi Carel and Jane Macnaughton receiving the Health Humanities Medal Inspiration Award

Havi Carel and Jane Macnaughton receiving the Health Humanities Medal Inspiration Award

IMH hosted project Life of Breath has scooped the first ever Health Humanities Medal Inspiration Award in recognition of the work the project has done to engage respiratory patients directly revealing their authentic stories and developing activities and materials aimed at reducing the stigma of breathlessness. 

Life of Breath, currently in its fourth of five years, is a collaboration between Durham and Bristol Universities, led by Professor Havi Carel and IMH Director Professor Jane Macnaughton. The project, which is funded by a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award, aims to make breathlessness and the associated suffering more visible. An interdisciplinary research team has been exploring the lived experience of breathing and breathlessness through philosophy, literature, anthropology, arts and history. 

A close relationship with the British Lung Foundation and patient support groups has led to the development of various activities and materials aimed at reducing the stigma of breathlessness by exposing the prejudices, as well as making people aware of their breath and how to maintain respiratory health. This has included a ‘patient toolkit’, supporting them to think about their breathlessness in a non-medical way, a ‘Singing for Breathing’ group in Bristol and a pilot project offering a dance programme for respiratory patients in the North East.

The Health Humanities Medal is a new scheme coordinated by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), in association with the Wellcome Trust, which recognises the very best research, impact and leadership. Life of Breath was just one of 100 entries across the five categories which were assessed by a panel of academics, health practitioners and industry professionals. Professor Edward Harcourt, Director of Research, Strategy and Innovation at the AHRC said: “The AHRC has always seen the importance of backing the health humanities. We were struck by the exceptional quality of the applications, which express a more inclusive vision of health and wellbeing and how to achieve it in ways that are not driven by medical science alone.”

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