Themes in Medical History

Medicine through time – by theme / factor

Medicine though time is a study in development. As time has gone by medicine has been influenced by a number of things. These things are factors. They impact on medicine in a number of ways. Factors can influence medical progress through beliefs and attitudes, through direct action, or through unplanned and fortunate discoveries. Medical history itself can be broken up into categories, or themes. These are the different areas of medicine and health care. These include things such as Public Health, which relates to trying to keep society clean and free from disease, to things such as Surgery.

Student guide to themes and factors in Medicine through time

When studying medicine through time, students need to develop an understanding of the way in which the different factors have influenced development at specific points in time. Some factors can have a hugely positive, or negative, impact on progress. More developed understanding is achieved through seeing how the factors combine to influence medical development. This could be something like scientific breakthroughs leading to investment by government, or a chance discovery leading to changes in methodology.

It is also important to realise that things do not change at a steady pace. Indeed, some aspects of medicine have not changed much at all over time. Things such as referring to older, wiser people for advice, or using natural remedies remain common. Below are a selection of brief articles about the various themes and factors. They are designed to provide students of medicine through time with a range of examples of how themes and factors have combined and to suggest the impact of these. Students should reach their own conclusions about the significance of each factor.

Herbal Remedies - an example of continuity in treatments over time
Herbal remedies have been used continuously throughout recorded history

Pulling things together

Understanding chronology

Continuity and change in Medicine through time


Public Health

The Transformation of Surgery

Role of Women in the Medical Profession

A cure all. A common type of remedy.
A cure all. A common type of remedy.


Chance as a factor in developing medicine

How have Science and Technology changed medicine?

Religion as a factor in the History of medicine

How War has affected medicine