The Association for Medical Humanities is a Learned Society, based in the UK, providing a focal point for those interested in developing the medical humanities as an inter-disciplinary study and practice. The medical humanities primarily include the use of the arts and humanities in medical and healthcare education and the academic study of medicine and healthcare through the arts and humanities. The descriptor ‘medical humanities’ is taken to include ‘health humanities’ or ‘humanities in healthcare’, where ‘humanities’ includes the arts.
The Association was founded in February 2002 at a meeting held at the University of Birmingham Medical School, out of an original initiative supported by The Nuffield Trust. Since then, apart from 2007, the Association has held an annual academic conference at Durham 2003; Swansea 2004; Truro 2005; London King’s College 2006; (no conference in 2007); Glasgow 2008; Durham 2009; Truro 2010; Leicester 2011; Cork 2012; Aberdeen 2013; Southampton 2014; and Dartington 2015. Future conferences are planned for: London, University of Greenwich (2016), University of Keele (2017) and Istanbul (2018).
The Association is linked to the British Medical Journal (BMJ) group’s biannual journal Medical Humanities (edition of the Journal of Medical Ethics) (current editor Professor Deborah Bowman). The Association has developed links with other international bodies such as the ‘Creating Space’ conference series in Canada and its associated journal Ars Medica, and the International Network for Health Humanities (Paul Crawford, University of Nottingham).
The Association is independent of direct affiliation to an academic institution but annual conferences are usually held in conjunction with a University.
A history of the medical humanities and the Association’s place within that history can be found in Alan Bleakley (2015) The Medical Humanities and Medical Education: How the medical humanities can shape better doctors. London: Routledge.