Journal of Medical Humanities

, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 377–389 | Cite as

A Storytelling Approach: Insights from the Shambaa

  • Camillo LamannaEmail author


Narrative medicine explores the stories that patients tell; this paper, conversely, looks at some of the stories that patients are told. The paper starts by examining the ‘story’ told by the Shambaa people of Tanzania to explain the bubonic plague and contrasts this with the stories told by Ghanaian communities to explain lymphatic filariasis. By harnessing insights from memory studies, these stories’ memorability is claimed to be due to their use mnemonic devices woven into stories. The paper suggests that stories can be unpatronising, informative, and appropriate vehicles for communicating medical information to all age groups across all cultures.


Storytelling Narrative Plague Lymphatic filariasis Shambaa Ghana 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stellenbosch UniversityStellenboschSouth Africa

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