International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy

, Volume 38, Issue 6, pp 1346–1349 | Cite as

Pharmaceutical care as narrative practice? Rethinking patient-centered care through a pharmacist’s perspective

  • Janine Naß
  • Mita Banerjee
  • Thomas Efferth
  • Anita WohlmannEmail author


Illness is a disruptive experience that requires high-quality care. The best evidence-based medical treatment risks losing some of its efficacy, however, when patients feel misunderstood when faced with the complexity of their experiences. They might stop treatment, refuse to disclose relevant information or seek unsound alternatives. A narrative-based approach to health care understands the patient’s case history as a narrative that can be read or analyzed like a story. In other words, this approach honors individual illness experiences through the stories that patients tell. While programs that train ‘narrative competence’ have been successfully implemented in medical education, an application to pharmaceutical training is missing so far. We argue for the necessity to complement evidence-based pharmaceutical practice with narrative-based approaches to ensure high-quality care. Using the perspective of a pharmacist in a case scenario, we exemplify the centrality of “narrative pharmacy” for improving the quality and safety of pharmaceutical health care.


Counseling Humanities Illness experience Narrative Pharmaceutical care Pharmacy practice 



The interdisciplinary cooperation instrumental for this article was made possible by the German Research Foundation through the funding of the research training program “Life Sciences—Life Writing: Boundary Experiences of Human Life between Biomedical Explanation and Lived Experience” [2015/1] and by the Gutenberg Teaching Council at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, which supported an 18-month interdisciplinary teaching project on “Patient Narratives” between the Department of Pharmaceutical Biology and the Department of English and Linguistics.

Conflicts of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Janine Naß
    • 1
  • Mita Banerjee
    • 2
  • Thomas Efferth
    • 1
  • Anita Wohlmann
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute of Pharmacy and Biochemistry, Department of Pharmaceutical BiologyJohannes Gutenberg University MainzMainzGermany
  2. 2.Department of English and Linguistics/Transnational American Studies InstituteJohannes Gutenberg University MainzMainzGermany

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