Narrative ethics for narrative care

J Aging Stud. 2015 Aug;34:183-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jaging.2015.02.014. Epub 2015 Mar 26.


Narrative permeates health care--from patients' stories taken as medical histories to the development of health policy. The narrative approach to health care has involved the move from narratives in health care as objects of study to the lens through which health care is studied and, more recently, to narrative as a form of care. In this paper, I argue that narrative care requires a move in the field of ethics--from a position where narratives are used to inform ethical decision making to one in which narrative is the form and process of ethical decision making. In other words, I argue for a narrative ethics for narrative care. The argument is relatively straightforward. If, as I argue, humans are narrative beings who make sense of themselves, others, and the world in and through narrative, we need to see our actions as both narratively based and narratively contextual and thus understanding the nature, form, and content of the narratives of which we are a part, and the process of narrativity, provides an intersubjective basis for ethical action.

Keywords: Narrative care; Narrative ethics; Personhood.

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Decision Making / ethics
  • Humans
  • Narration*
  • Narrative Therapy / ethics*
  • Professional-Patient Relations / ethics