Advancing Shame Awareness through Graphic Medicine

The Shame Space & the ‘Shame in Medical Education: Integrating Cross-Cultural Perspectives’ Project (2020-2023, funded by Duke-Exeter Collaboration Fund, Duke-Exeter Acceleration Fund and a WCCEH Enhanced Research Award).

The ‘Shame in Medical Education: Integrating Cross-Cultural Perspectives’ project aims to deepen existing knowledge about shame experiences in medical education by considering cross-cultural perspectives, leveraging creative methodologies, and developing impactful educational tools. Extending an existing collaboration between researchers at the University of Exeter and Duke University, this project has engaged clinicians, educators, and researchers at Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore as a first step in creating an international consortium to explore and integrate global, cross-cultural conceptualizations of shame into the creation of educational resources for medical trainees. Through an expert-led collaboration across the three Universities, this project has used the mediums of storytelling and graphic medicine to deepen understandings of shame in medicine across cultures, while also creating and evaluating high-impact outputs and teaching tools.

Created in 2022 as part of the ‘Shame in Medical Education: Integrating Cross-Cultural Perspectives’ project, The Shame Space is an international network of professionals who use creative storytelling and research to advance shame awareness, shame resilience, and shame-sensitive practice in healthcare, with the overarching goal of creating more connected, authentic, and safe healthcare systems for all. The Shame Space was formed by scholars studying shame at the University of Exeter, Duke University, and Duke-NUS Medical School.

Through our collaborations with medical students and artists, we have created several graphic medicine pieces, including: Needlestick, illustrated by Hannah Berry; The Shame Spiral, illustrated by Hannah Mumby; Imposter, illustrated by Alan Bay; Bar Code, illustrated by Georgia Webber; Lessons in Absolution, illustrated by Hannah Mumby; and The Room, illustrated by Zara Slattery.

If you are interested in learning more about The Shame Space or the ‘Shame in Medical Education: Integrating Cross-Cultural Perspectives’ project, contact the project PIs Will Bynum ( and Luna Dolezal (

Funded by Duke-Exeter Collaboration Fund (2020-2022), Duke-Exeter Acceleration Fund (2022-2023), Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health (WCCEH) Enhanced Research Award (2022-2023).

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