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How did the First World War help to bring progress in medical treatments?

Learning Outcomes:

* To identify war as a factor in bringing about medical progress.
* To identify the main changes brought about in the treatment of disease and injury during the war: psychiatry, blood transfusions, artificial limbs.

Video starter: The impact of war on medicine

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Title: Did World War One help or hinder medicine? (pt 1/2)

Duration: 02:59

Description: In World War One there were 24 million casualties. Doctors and nurses struggled to cope and disease spread easily in dirty, difficult conditions. Using the evidence of a doctor's diary the clip shows how medics felt they could only give soldier's a cup of tea!

From BBC Class Clips






Think about what was and wasn't available to doctors in the trenches. Have they got the neccessary equipment or knowledge to deal with the victims of war?


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 Title: Did World War One help or hinder medicine (pt 2/2)

Duration: 04:33

Description: Through dramatisation and contemporary sources, the clip shows that the government publicised the medical improvements made because of the war, particularly for surgeons whose methods and skills developed. But doctors on the front line said things were quite different; very few casualties made it to the surgical hospitals 20 miles behind lines. Surgery moved 'backwards' from conservative surgery to amputation. However the War Office needed to keep up morale so hid these accounts.

From BBC Class Clips

Also consider, The Impact of War on medical care in the 1900's

Think about: what improvements did the government claim were made as a result of the First World War?





When you have watched the video clips and thought about the way that warfare affected medicine in the First World War, try and complete this interactive diagram. This will help you to see how warfare over time has affected medicine. Diagram hosted on





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