Ethical Challenges in the Oral History of Medicine

Michelle Winslow and Graham Smith

in The Oxford Handbook of Oral History

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780195339550
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199940578 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Ethical Challenges in the Oral History of Medicine

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Ethical challenges in the oral history of medicine are the essence of this article. It is a mark of the contribution of oral history to the history of medicine that studies located within living memory are open to criticism if they fail to include oral history. However, oral history's contribution to the history of medicine is a complex one, and this is highlighted in an exploration of the history of professionals in medicine and medical professions, and in the emergence of the patient's story. Problems of “shared authority” are considered: working with professionals when interviewee “power” is a factor and, conversely, our relationships with “patients” who may be viewed as “vulnerable” oral history subjects. Interwoven throughout this discussion is the question of ethics, and this article raises some of the ethical challenges that arise within the history of medicine. Oral history in medicine gives insight into past actions that allows their consideration in their contemporary circumstances.

Keywords: ethical challenges; oral history; living memory; history of medicine; shared authority

Article.  9857 words. 

Subjects: Oral History

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