Medicine in World War One

How did World War One 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


in external player

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?



in external player

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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