We are a group of researchers from various backgrounds including sociology, anthropology, and nursing, who are interested in the social life of health and medicine. Our work aims to critically contribute and respond to recent and ongoing shifts in health research, which increasingly acknowledge the complex interactions that constitute care. As a consequence, we aim to address the plurality of experiences, responses and understandings of both patients and professionals which make up the practices of health, disease and illness in contemporary societies.
Accordingly, our research focuses on the complex relations and multiple perspectives that constitute the contemporary healthcare landscape. In particular, we conduct research that attempts to explore and interpret the otherwise ‘taken for granted’ aspects of everyday healthcare contexts. We actively aim to integrate theory into our research practice, discussion and interpretation of our findings. These general aims are as a result in concordance with adopting a range of qualitative, rather than quantitative methods, in order to capture the richness of people’s experiences and interactions, and so that we do not impose all objects of study from the outset.
However, the network does not wish to be defined by methodology, but rather the underlying theoretical perspectives which inform the work, from initial research questions through to analysis. We regard the integration of a range of academic disciplines from humanities and the social sciences as key to generating different kinds of questions and ultimately new insights for applied research. We therefore see our research as complimenting the growing body of qualitative health research projects, but not necessarily being completely aligned with them.
Hosted within the General Practice and Primary Care Research Unit, the network seeks to connect researchers within and beyond the Department of Public Health, including the MRC Epidemiology Unit, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, MRC Food and Nutrition Unit and PhD students across the University.
Our research interests include:
- Analysing notions of choice – such as interrogating the concept of informed choice in primary care, issues of choice in relation to end of life provision, and the everyday ethics relating to resuscitation practices
- Exploring the social context of people’s everyday activities – such as looking at forms of active travel in relation to practices of commuting, ideas of safety that underlie children’s play, and the promotion of physical activity for the prevention of chronic disease
- Looking at the experience of disease – including critically researching the role of peer support for the management of diabetes and the concept of time and temporalities in screening for Type 2 diabetes
- Understanding the ways in which professionals and patients interact – such as issues relating to the communication of risk and the ways in which patient perspectives are currently measured and used by doctors, nurses and managers