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Challenges 2019, 10(1), 17; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe10010017

Narrative Medicine Meets Planetary Health: Mindsets Matter in the Anthropocene

1
School of Medicine, University of Western Australia, Nedlands, WA 6009, Australia
2
The ORIGINS Project, Telethon Kids Institute, Perth Children’s Hospital, 15 Hospital Avenue, Nedlands, WA 6009, Australia
3
inVIVO Planetary Health, Research Group of the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN), 6010 Park Ave, Suite #4081, West New York, NJ 07093, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 27 December 2018 / Revised: 16 February 2019 / Accepted: 17 February 2019 / Published: 20 February 2019
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Abstract

The emerging concept of planetary health—defined as the interdependent vitality of all natural and anthropogenic ecosystems (social, political, and otherwise)—emphasizes that the health of human civilization is intricately connected to the health of natural systems within the Earth’s biosphere. In the clinical setting, narrative medicine underscores the importance of absorbing, reflecting upon, and responding to the narratives—the stories—conveyed by patients. Education and interventions using the tenets of narrative medicine have demonstrated value to both patient and provider. Given the grand interconnected challenges of our time—compounded by misinformation and quasi-scientific narratives propagated by the ideology of neoliberalism—we argue that the principles and practice of narrative medicine can be applied on a larger scale, one with planetary health in mind. The role of beliefs, expectations, and agency—mindsets—in the link between narrative and planetary health are emphasized. We use a story of our own to demonstrate that the biological buffering capacity in response to a fast-food meal does not sit on a level socioeconomic playing field. Patient, community, and global health narratives are melding with powerful narratives set by commercial entities. The success of planetary health as a new concept will be strengthened by attention to the ways in which storytelling can influence positive change. No less important is an understanding of the ways in which stories contribute to what ails person, place, and planet. View Full-Text
Keywords: planetary health; narrative medicine; neoliberalism; anthropogenic ecosystems; belief systems; values; noncommunicable diseases (NCDs); storytelling; clinical ecology; socioeconomic inequalities; social justice; exposome; ultraprocessed foods; green space planetary health; narrative medicine; neoliberalism; anthropogenic ecosystems; belief systems; values; noncommunicable diseases (NCDs); storytelling; clinical ecology; socioeconomic inequalities; social justice; exposome; ultraprocessed foods; green space
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Prescott, S.L.; Logan, A.C. Narrative Medicine Meets Planetary Health: Mindsets Matter in the Anthropocene. Challenges 2019, 10, 17.

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