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Shame and Medicine Project

The Shame and Medicine project is supported by a 5-year Wellcome Trust Collaborative Award (£1.46million), running from May 2020 until April 2025. The project is led by PI Dr Luna Dolezal and Co-I Dr Matthew Gibson, University of Birmingham. Based in the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of HealthShame and Medicine is co-sponsored by the Centre for Medical History.

Shame and Medicine engages an interdisciplinary team working across medicine, medical humanities, and social sciences, in order to investigate shame, and related experiences, within healthcare. Shame is a powerful force in the everyday experiences of patients, medical students and healthcare practitioners. For patients, it has been associated with treatment avoidance, increased burden of illness, and negative health outcomes, while also being recognized as a force that can sometimes motivate positive changes to lifestyle and health. Shame can influence how healthcare practitioners perform, interact with patients and other professionals, and cope with adversity. In addition, shame has been identified as a negative, yet frequently present, aspect of medical education. Despite the prevalence and significance of shame within various aspects of healthcare, at present, our understanding of the impact of shame, its many varieties, and other related negative self-conscious emotions within medical contexts is incomplete. Shame and Medicine is a ground-breaking interdisciplinary project that will propose new opportunities to improve the quality of healthcare delivery within a more responsive and effective health service. The project will produce new evidence on the experiential basis of shame, cultures of shame and to investigate differential experiences of shame due to race, ethnicity, class and gender.

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