Connect
MJA
MJA

Humanistic medicine or values-based medicine . . . what's in a name?

J Miles Little
Med J Aust 2002; 177 (6): 319-321.

Summary

  • "Humanistic medicine" is a term compounded, for therapeutic purposes, with the good intent of reminding clinicians of their need to be compassionate and empathic. Although the expression is arresting, and demands thought, it does not go far enough.

  • "Values-based medicine" is a stronger term, reminding clinicians of the sustaining values that underpin the whole health endeavour. These values include an acceptance of the value of individual human life in quantity and quality, and of the importance to both individuals and communities of human security and flourishing.

  • Values-based medicine can incorporate all the other paradigms of medicine, including scientific and evidence-based medicine, within it, because it can include anything that contributes to human security and flourishing.

  • If we are to seek a new paradigm for a reconstructed view of healthcare, the term "values-based medicine" might have more power and relevance than "humanistic medicine".

Please login with your free MJA account to view this article in full

  • J Miles Little

  • Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine, University of Sydney, NSW.

Correspondence: milesl@med.usyd.edu.au

Acknowledgements: 

I am grateful to Kathleen Montgomery, Associate Professor, Organisations and Management, at the A Garry Anderson School of Management at Riverside, California, for suggesting this topic for discussion, for organising my visit to Riverside, and for her critical and constructive comments on the article.

Competing interests:

None identified. I was paid travel expenses and a small honorarium for presenting this work at the University of California – Riverside, USA.

  • 1. Myers M. Doctors' marriages: a look at the problems and their solutions. New York: Plenum Medical Book Co, 1994.
  • 2. Schlicht SM, Gordon IR, Ball JR, Christie DG. Suicide and related deaths in Victorian doctors. Med J Aust 1990; 153: 518-521.
  • 3. Patz JA, Jodrey D. Occupational health in surgery: risks extend beyond the operating room. Aust N Z J Surg 1995; 65: 627-629.
  • 4. Butler J. The modern doctor's dilemma: rationing and ethics in healthcare. J R Soc Med 1999; 92: 416-421.
  • 5. Butler J. The ethics of health care rationing. London: Cassell, 1999.
  • 6. Little M. Healthcare rationing: constraints and equity. Med J Aust 2001; 174: 641-642.
  • 7. Little M. Ethics and resource allocation. In: Dooley BJ, Fearnside MR, Gorton MW, editors. Surgery, ethics and the law. Melbourne: Blackwell Scientific; 2000: 53-62.
  • 8. Little M. Increased capability, diminished possibility. Med J Aust 2000; 173: 39-40.
  • 9. Little M. Utopia as wilderness: medicine in the latter half of the twentieth century. In: Jobling L, Runcie C, editors. Matters of the mind: poems, essays and interviews in honour of Leonie Kramer. Sydney: University of Sydney, 2001: 101-112.
  • 10. Maloney JV. Presidential address: the limits of medicine. Ann Surg 1981; 194: 247-255.
  • 11. Bombardieri D, Easthope G. Convergence between orthodox and alternative medicine: a theoretical elaboration and empirical test. Health 2000; 4: 479-494.
  • 12. Pellegrino ED, Thomasma DC. The virtues in medical practice. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
  • 13. Ewin RE. Reasons and the fear of death. Lanham, Md: Rowman and Littlefield, 2002.
  • 14. Beauchamp TL, Childress JF. Principles of biomedical ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1964.
  • 15. Little M. Humane medicine. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
  • 16. Nelson HL. Damaged identities, narrative repair. New York: Cornell University Press, 2001.

Author

remove_circle_outline Delete Author
add_circle_outline Add Author

Comment
Do you have any competing interests to declare? *

I/we agree to assign copyright to the Medical Journal of Australia and agree to the Conditions of publication *
I/we agree to the Terms of use of the Medical Journal of Australia *
Email me when people comment on this article

Responses are now closed for this article.