Research Centre for Culture and Health

The Research Centre for Culture and Health explores the connections between culture, health, and illness from a multidisciplinary perspective. The centre also provides education, and it participates in initiatives related to the University’s third mission, societal interaction.

Health and illness are experienced in everyday life. Although health care, and in particular the treatment of diseases, is to an increasing extent in the hands of increasingly specialised health care professionals, the person who experiences it – the patient or the client – is a whole person and experiences their illness outside of care institutions as well. One of the starting points of cultural health research is to see the person as a whole and to place a (experiencing) person alongside and in the centre of a biomedical disease.

The second premise is that the manners of both experiencing and explaining are tied to a time and place, i.e. cultural practises. In the fields of art and culture, health and disease can be examined, for example, by examining the ways in which diseases are presented in the media, visual arts, or literature. Art and architecture, the material and built environment, influence the experience, and thus, for example, the study of the aesthetic hospital environment as an aspect of pain relief and treatment experience is significant. It has become increasingly important to explore how art supports inclusion and promotes functional capacity. Climate change and digitalisation of culture, in turn, raise new questions about the human–non-human relationship and its implications for health.

The unit is actively seeking new research ideas and partners. The unit provides teaching of the field in the Asklepios education unit, which combines medical themes with humanities and social sciences in teaching. We are involved in the development and implementation of interdisciplinary research and training on social and health services at the Centre for Education and Research on Social and Health Services of the University of Turku. The unit also coordinates a culture and health seminar for doctoral candidates and other researchers.