Patient Narratives: a Tool for People-Centered Health Systems Education

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Background: Recent global initiatives have called for responsive and people-centered health systems. There has also been demand for increased transformational and applied learning in medicine and public health. Methods: Patient Narratives, a tool for people-centered health systems education, was implemented among undergraduate students preparing for a career in public health or medicine. This activity trained students to interview a patient living with a chronic condition and to analyze health system performance based on the patient’s narrative. Results: Students interviewed patients of various ages, diagnoses, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Patients had obtained care in diverse health care settings, for example, through private health insurance and through governmental programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. All students were able to successfully complete the activity and successfully demonstrated ability to collect relevant information and make inferences on health systems performance using the information that they collected. Therefore, all students achieved the learning objectives. In addition, 92% of students reported increased confidence in engaging with patients as a result of this activity. Conclusion: Patient Narratives can help students develop analytical skills to evaluate health systems performance and understand the realities of the individuals that they aim to serve. Patient Narratives can be a useful addition to the teaching methodology on health systems in the undergraduate setting and beyond.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1437-1443
Number of pages7
JournalMedical Science Educator
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Active learning
  • Chronic noncommunicable diseases
  • Health systems education
  • People-centered classroom
  • People-centered health systems
  • Teaching methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Education


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