This page offers definitions for terms relevant to health equity, as well as the world of storytelling, health, and medicine. We also include recommendations for additional creative works and stories that relate to our focus on health disparities and storytelling.


Graphic Medicine: Graphic Medicine refers to storytelling that integrates visual imagery and written text in sequential form to communicate stories on health and medicine. Comics, or graphic narratives, encompass a wide body of work from comic strips, serial comics, graphic memoir, and graphic novels.

Health Disparities: preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, disability, violence or opportunities to achieve optimal health. Health disparities as a concept is often interchangeable with health inequalities. Factors often contributing to differences in health include race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, gender, disability, socioeconomic status, and geography.

Health Equity: A term used to refer to the study of the causes of differences in health and healthcare. Health equity also refers to the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to be as healthy as possible. Equity in health is best achieved by removing obstacles to health and health care.

Health Humanities: a field that applies the arts and humanities disciplines and content to understand different dimensions of health and well-being.

Humanistic Medicine: Identified by some as the practice of compassionate care in medical professions. Others emphasize that humanistic medicine is “values-based” medicine, with an emphasis on the myriad factors informing the health of patients. Humanistic medicine emerged largely as a response to the factors in the health system that have created obstacles to the practice of empathy in the clinical context.

Microaggressions: The everyday verbal, nonverbal and environmental slights that convey prejudiced attitudes towards individuals in marginalized communities. Microaggressions may be unconscious or deliberate actions or comments.

Medical Humanities: An interdisciplinary approach, primarily in medical education, that draws from the arts and humanities.

Narrative Medicine: A medical approach that relies on stories, or narratives, in clinical practice, research, and education.

Poetic Medicine: An approach that emphasizes poetry as a mode of healing.

Unconscious Bias: Refers to the learned stereotypes that have an influence on behavior. Sometimes referred to as implicit bias, these biases are often unintentional and automatic. There is now a considerable emphasis on the need to focus beyond individuals to the role of institutions in perpetuating unconscious bias, including schools, media, and other large institutions. The emphasis on institutions is often referred to as structural bias

Recommended Sources

Please check back for upcoming recommendations of multimedia creative works that capture the complexity and nuances of health disparities. Feel free to also send your suggestions of poems, paintings, short stories, and other creative sources that relate to themes and issues relating to health disparities.