Narrative Medicine perspectives on patient identity and integrative care in neuro-oncology

Robert B. Slocum, Tracy A. Howard, John L. Villano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Narrative Medicine sessions can encourage patients to rediscover personal identity and meaning by telling or writing their stories. We explored this process to improve care and quality of life for brain cancer patients in an academic neuro-oncology program. Brain cancer and its treatments may threaten a patient’s quality of life and sense of self in many ways, including impaired cognitive skills, loss of memory, reduced coordination, and limited capacity for self-expression. The impact of symptoms and side effects on quality of life must be evaluated in terms of each patient’s identity and may be understood in terms of each patient’s story. Insights from Narrative Medicine visits may also be helpful for the treatment team as they seek to assess patient needs, attitudes, and abilities. We provide case-based histories demonstrating applications of Narrative Medicine in the care of patients with brain tumors whose sense of self and quality of life are challenged. The cases include managing frontal lobe syndrome of loss of initiative and pervasive emotional apathy with his wife and young children, regaining a meaningful activity in a patient, re-establishing self-identity in a young woman with ependymoma, and improving spells with coexistent epilepsy and psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-421
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Neuro-Oncology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.


  • Brain tumor
  • Glioblastoma
  • Narrative medicine
  • Quality of life
  • Self-identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cancer Research


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