Academic Psychiatry

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 206–213 | Cite as

Divergent Fates of the Medical Humanities in Psychiatry and Internal Medicine: Should Psychiatry be Rehumanized?

  • Bret R. Rutherford
  • David J. Hellerstein
Original Article



To determine the degree to which the medical humanities have been integrated into the fields of internal medicine and psychiatry, the authors assessed the presence of medical humanities articles in selected psychiatry and internal medicine journals from 1950 to 2000.


The journals searched were the three highest-ranking psychiatry and internal medicine journals on the Institute for Scientific Information’s Impact Factor rankings that were published in English and aimed at a clinical audience. Operationalized criteria defining the medical humanities allowed the percentage of text in the selected journals constituting medical humanities to be quantified. Journals were hand searched at 10-year intervals from 1950 to 2000. Mixed effects models were used to describe the change in medical humanities over time.


The percentage of text within psychiatry journals meeting the criteria for medical humanities declined from a peak of 17% in 1970 to a low of 2% in 2000, while the percentage of humanities articles in internal medicine journals roughly doubled from 5% to 11% over the same time period. A linear model increasing over time best fit the medical humanities in the internal medicine journals, while a cubic model decreasing over time best fit the psychiatry humanities data. Humanities articles in medical journals had a greater breadth and diversity than those in psychiatry journals.


Medical humanities publications dramatically decreased over time in psychiatry journals while they more than doubled in internal medicine journals. These data suggest the need for further empirical research and discussion of the potential roles of the humanities in psychiatry.


Medical Humanity Academic Psychiatry Narrative Medicine York State Psychiatric Institute Medicine Journal 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Academic Psychiatry 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryNew York State Psychiatric InstituteNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.AdministrationNew York State Psychiatric InstituteNew YorkUSA

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