Reconstructing medical history: historiographical features, approaches and challenges.
Medical historiography deals with the concepts, theories, and approaches adopted in the reconstruction and discussion of the history of medicine. The expression has changed through time and according to different scholars and contexts, and it largely depends on the general standpoint from which the medicine of the past is examined. From an Evidence Based History of Medicine perspective, an accurate and complete examination of all available sources must be carried out to draw a picture of the medical theme examined, and, to reach this aim, the issue of the reliability of sources is a preliminary point to take into account. Different historiographical models adopted in the twentieth century will be discussed in this paper. The current ample discussion on the characterising features, methods and challenges of medical historiography documents the wide extent of the debate on the ways available today for the reconstruction of medical history. It also testifies to the relevance, inter-disciplinarity and remarkable vitality of the topic in current academic, scientific and social contexts. Medical and health history is an essential part of current medicine, and the study of the development of medicine through time is an extremely formative experience, which should not be confined to historians and professionals, but which, in appropriate formats and in correct methodological terms, should have full right of citizenship in current health care initiatives.