Reading Guide for Healthcare Literacy

The resources below are recommended by Dr. Max Hunter, Director of the PPHS program, to expand literacy in and awareness of issues in health care.

These first two authors are considered essential reading:

Atwul Gawande, MD, MPH, is a surgeon, writer, and public health researcher. He practices general and endocrine surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He is Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Samuel O. Thier Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School. He is also Executive Director of Ariadne Labs, a joint center for health systems innovation, and Chairman of Lifebox, a nonprofit organization making surgery safer globally.

Paul Farmer, MD, PhD, Professor of Anthropology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Farmer and his colleagues in the U.S. and abroad have pioneered novel, community-based treatment strategies that demonstrate the delivery of high-quality health care in resource-poor settings in the U.S. and other countries. Their work is documented in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, The Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine, Clinical Infectious Diseases, and Social Science and Medicine. Dr. Farmer also has written extensively on health and human rights, about the role of social inequalities in the distribution and outcome of infectious diseases, and about global health.

Other recommended readings (listed alphabetically by author):

Pauline Chen. "Final Exam: A Surgeon's Reflections on Mortality"

Robert Coles. "The Call of Stories: Teaching and the Moral Imagination"

Ezekiel J. Emanuel. "Reinventing American Health Care"

Paul Kalanithi. "When Breath Becomes Air"

Daniel’s Ofri. "What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine"

Susan Reverby. "Examining Tuskegee: The Infamous Syphilis Study and Its Legacy"

Charles Rosenberg. "The Care of Strangers: The Rise of America's Hospital System and The Cholera Years"

Abraham Verghese is senior associate chair and professor for the Theory and Practice of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine. He sees patients, teaches students and writes.

Harriet Washington. "Medical Apartheid"

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