Narrative Ethics and Intersectionality

American Journal of Bioethics 19 (2):29-31 (2019)
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This paper responds to a proposal for an intersectional approach to the clinical encounter between patient and medical provider. We agree that an intersectional framework offers new insights and information in the clinical encounter. Intersectionality involves awareness of the physician-patient dynamic, and understanding the various privileges and disadvantages of all parties involved, at a micro and macroscopic level. Yet, this analysis alone is insufficient to aid in the clinical encounter and risks harm. We worry about a clinician making assumptions about her patient’s race, gender, economic status, and how these influence the patient’s own views of her life and health. We argue that a narrative supplement is a necessary element of intersectional clinical encounters. Prioritizing patient narrative curtails assumptions, builds trust, and improves care.



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Elizabeth Lanphier
Cincinnati Children's Hospital