Stanford Medicine magazine looks at what arts, humanities bring to medicine

When the arts and humanities play a role in medicine, patients, researchers and doctors can benefit. The winter issue of Stanford Medicine magazine features articles on the intersection of medicine with the arts and humanities.

- By Rosanne Spector

Illustration by Jeffrey Fisher

Imagine your doctor told you at the end of an exam, “I’m going to prescribe you an artistic experience.” Would you be thinking, “Time to get a new doctor”?

Well, you might want to stick with the one you have. Taking part in art probably won’t cure you, but, depending on your particular illness, it really could help. People with Parkinson’s disease, for instance, benefit physically and psychologically from taking dance classes.

The winter issue of Stanford Medicine, produced in collaboration with Stanford’s Medicine and the Muse program, features articles on the role of the arts and humanities in medicine, among them an article on Dance for PD, a program that offers dance classes to people with Parkinson’s disease.

“The worlds of dance and medicine have been far apart for a long time. That is why this is so exciting,” professor of neurology Helen Bronte-Stewart, MD, said in the article.

“As physicians, we stress the importance of physical activity, social interaction and mental stimulation to our patients with Parkinson’s disease,” Bronte-Stewart said. “Dance for PD gives them all three. But it is much more than a possible therapy or treatment; the PD dancers have told us this type of dance restores their self-image and brings them joy.” 

Also in the report:

The issue also includes an article about a new paradigm for cancer research that looks beyond mutations as the cause of the disease, and a feature about a newborn’s life-and-death battle that revealed the power of a few mutant heart cells to wreak massive damage.

The magazine is available online. Print copies are being sent to subscribers. Others can request a copy by calling (650) 723-6911 or by sending an email to

About Stanford Medicine

Stanford Medicine is an integrated academic health system comprising the Stanford School of Medicine and adult and pediatric health care delivery systems. Together, they harness the full potential of biomedicine through collaborative research, education and clinical care for patients. For more information, please visit

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