About the project

Mind-Boggling Medical History originated as a public engagement activity for museum events. Following a positive reception, we decided to develop the game into a learning resource designed to aid critical thinking.

How easy is it for people to tell the difference between what’s current practice and what isn’t in medicine? And why is it important to think about this? The game shows how historical theories can be used to prompt questions about current understandings of medicine, the need for health and medical practitioners to stay up to date in their field and the impact changes in medical knowledge can have on patient care. The statements are designed to stimulate further questions on the part of the player and to open up wider discussions about medicine, health and history.

Co-created with theatre director and curator Sarah Punshon, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and drawing on the interdisciplinary work of Constructing Scientific Communities, Mind-Boggling Medical History has been created with museum visitors, school students, and University nursing and medical students in mind.

Accompanying lesson plans and learning resources for use with GCSE History and BSc Nursing students are available to download on our website. These can be adapted for healthcare, medical and history students at other levels of study.

We hope you have as much fun playing the game as we have had making it! 

Who are we?

'Mind-Boggling Medical History' was originally created by Sarah Chaney, Sally Frampton and Sarah Punshon in 2013 to be played at one-off events. In 2017 the game received AHRC Follow-on Funding so it could be developed into a more widely accessible resource. It is part of the larger AHRC funded project Constructing Scientific Communities and we are also partnered with the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford, the Royal College of Nursing and the Science Museum. Team members are:

The game is copyright of the University of Oxford.

What are our aims?

As well as informing, Mind-Boggling Medical History is designed to aid critical thinking about the role of history, and the difference between past and current medical theories and practices. As well as being accessible to the general public, we have designed the game so that it is suitable for museum visitors, nursing and tertiary healthcare students and Key Stage 3 and 4 school students.

We want to show how historical facts and theories can be used to prompt questions about current day understandings of medicine, as well as to challenge preconceptions users might have about the history of medicine. For health practitioners the game demonstrates the importance of staying up to date in their field, and the impact changes in medical knowledge can have on patient care.

The academic bit

We’re interested in finding out what the public know about medicine and medical history and how the game might improve understanding of both.  As part of the project we’ll be collecting (non-personal) data from the online version of the game about what questions users are more likely to get right or wrong and which ones generate most interest. There will also be a chance for users to feedback and tell us more about their interest in the site and how we could make it better. We plan to write up our findings which will be published in open access publications.

You can read more about how we created the game here in a report authored by the museum consultants Heritage Support Group (HSG). HSG helped us develop the game through a series of focus groups and play-testing session that we undertook with key stakeholders.