Lived Observations: Linking the Researcher’s Personal Experiences to Knowledge Development
Lisbeth Thoresen & Joakim Öhlén
As researchers in palliative care, we recognize how involvement with seriously ill and dying persons has an impact on us. Using one’s own senses, emotional and bodily responses in observations might open intersubjective dimensions of the research topic. The aim of the article is to highlight how phenomenological theories on intersubjectivity can be useful to develop rich and transparent data generation and analysis. We present three field note examples from observation in a hospice ward, which illuminate how researcher awareness of aspects of intersubjectivity can add valuable insights to data and analysis. Out of the examples, we elaborate on three arguments: (a) how the researcher’s lived experience of time and space during fieldwork triggers new research questions, (b) how observations as an embodied activity can bring new insights and open new layers of meaning, and (c) the value of observations in gaining insight into relational aspects in a hospice.
Catherine Cook & Margaret Brunton
Invasive non-sedated clinical procedures such as gynaecological examinations are normalised; however, there is limited research highlighting the relational and technical skills required for clinicians to ensure patients’ continued consent. A considerable body of research emphasises that women dislike examinations, leading to their non-compliance or a delayed follow up for gynaecological and sexual health problems. However, medical research focuses on ‘problem’ women; the role of clinicians receives limited appraisal. This article draws on interviews with sexual health clinicians in New Zealand, from metropolitan and provincial locations. The gynaecological care of women in New Zealand attained international notoriety with the 1988 publication of Judge Cartwright’s inquiry into ethical shortcomings in cervical cancer research at the National Women’s Hospital. Judge Cartwright’s recommendations included patient-centred care in order to ensure informed consent had been received for clinical procedures and research participation. This article’s critical analysis is that, although clinicians’ language draws on humanistic notions of patient-centredness, Foucault’s notion of secularised pastoral power enables a more nuanced appreciation of the ethical work undertaken by clinicians when carrying out speculum examinations. The analysis highlights both the web of power relations present during examination practices and the strategies clinicians use to negotiate women’s continued consent; which is significant because consent is usually conceptualised as an event, rather than an unfolding, unstable process.
John Gardner & Clare Williams
An emerging body of literature in sociology has demonstrated that diagnosis is a useful focal point for understanding the social dimensions of health and illness. This article contributes to this work by drawing attention to the relationship between diagnostic spaces and the way in which clinicians use their own bodies during the diagnostic process. As a case study, we draw upon fieldwork conducted with a multidisciplinary clinical team providing deep brain stimulation (DBS) to treat children with a movement disorder called dystonia. Interviews were conducted with team members and diagnostic examinations were observed. We illustrate that clinicians use communicative body work and verbal communication to transform a material terrain into diagnostic space, and we illustrate how this diagnostic space configures forms of embodied ‘sensing-and-acting’ within. We argue that a ‘diagnosis’ can be conceptualised as emerging from an interaction in which space, the clinician-body, and the patient-body (or body-part) mutually configure one another. By conceptualising diagnosis in this way, this article draws attention to the corporal bases of diagnostic power and counters Cartesian-like accounts of clinical work in which the patient-body is objectified by a disembodied medical discourse.
Ling-Fang Cheng & Hsing-Chen Yang
Gender sensitivity is a crucial factor in the provision of quality health care. This paper explores acquired gendered values and attitudes among medical students through an analysis of the hidden curriculum that exists within formal medical classes and informal learning.
Discourse analysis was adopted as the research method. Data were collected from the Bulletin Board System (BBS), which represented an essential communication platform among students in Taiwan before the era of Facebook. The study examined 197 gender-related postings on the BBS boards of nine of 11 universities with a medical department in Taiwan, over a period of 10 years from 2000 to 2010.
The five distinctive characteristics of the hidden curriculum were as follows: (i) gendered stereotypes of physiological knowledge; (ii) biased treatment of women; (iii) stereotyped gender-based division of labour; (iv) sexual harassment and a hostile environment, and (v) ridiculing of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Both teachers and students co-produced a heterosexual masculine culture and sexism, including ‘benevolent sexism’ and ‘hostile sexism’. As a result, the self-esteem and learning opportunities of female and LGBT students have been eroded.
The paper explores gender dynamics in the context of a hidden curriculum in which heterosexual masculinity and stereotyped sexism are prevalent as norms. Both teachers and students, whether through formal medical classes or informal extracurricular interactive activities, are noted to contribute to the consolidation of such norms. The study tentatively suggests three strategies for integrating gender into medical education: (i) by separating physiological knowledge from gender stereotyping in teaching; (ii) by highlighting the importance of gender sensitivity in the language used within and outside the classroom by teachers and students, and (iii) by broadening the horizons of both teachers and students by recounting examples of the lived experiences of those who have been excluded and discriminated against, particularly members of LGBT and other minorities.
John Simon Vorhausa
According to capability theory, we can identify everything that is of fundamental importance in the lives of people with profound and multiple learning difficulties and disabilities if we take full account of their human capabilities. In this paper I both acknowledge the contribution of capability theory to our understanding of the condition of profoundly disabled people and express some scepticism about the extent of that contribution, suggesting that there is more to the value of a human being than an audit of their capabilities might reveal. I explore human capabilities as discussed by Martha Nussbaum, and in connection with theatre, music and the use of humour.
Research about disabled identity reflects diverse perspectives on the merits and challenges associated with such an identity. This paper explores the impact of disabled identity on the inclusion of disabled students in higher education and employment contexts. It considers their experiences of inclusion in a university setting and its associated work-based placements and discusses the extent to which students had to negotiate a range of experiences of disabled identity. The paper suggests that many disabled students, especially those with behaviour-related impairment labels, are subject to continued exclusion in university and, more particularly, work settings, and this contributes to an employment disadvantage compared with their peers. To this end, the paper highlights the importance of enhancing inclusion for disabled students, especially in employment settings, through a focus on reducing destructive identities.