Margaret A.WinkerMD, Deputy EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Interim CoeditorIndividualAuthor
To the Editor: In response to the statement by Dr
Weissman1 lamenting that physicians do not read poetry, I
would like to offer an explanation along with a local remedy.
In our society, we are addicted to outcomes. We want to publish
positive results. We want professional advancement. When we contact our
colleagues, we want them to act. We invest so that we can continue to
improve our standard of living—most frequently measured in material
terms. And we do everything we can to cure our patients or, in
end-of-life settings, to keep them alive at all costs even though our
compassion and common sense say to let go. No wonder that poetry has so
insignificant a role in our lives. Has there ever been any evidence
that literature has a measurable effect?
Wellbery C. Poetry and Medicine. JAMA. 1999;281(24):2286-2287. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-281-24-jbk0623