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Sociology of Health & Illness

Heidrun Åm
Applications of biomedical R&D currently imply substantial societal concerns. This paper explores, based on semi-structured interviews with scientists in Norway, how biomedical researchers experience and tackle such concerns in their daily work. It shows how ritualised routine responses to dislocatory moments help maintain order in the daily work of the interviewed scientists; they do not address directly but instead smooth over concerns by a ritualised way of using ethics. This may foreclose substantive reflection and function as a stabiliser for 'business as usual'...
September 10, 2018: Sociology of Health & Illness
Limor Meoded Danon
Recently, new laws and medical guidelines in many countries have prohibited early genital surgeries and irreversible medical treatment for intersexed babies. Following the passing of the German law that allows parents to register intersexed babies with no sex/gender, and after the establishment of new medical guidelines for intersexed patients in Israel, this study aims to examine the current medical policies regarding intersexed bodies at DSD centres and hospitals in Israel and Germany. How, if at all, have they changed the previous medical guidelines? This is a narrative study that includes 62 in-depth interviews with medical professionals, parents and intersexed people from Germany and Israel...
September 5, 2018: Sociology of Health & Illness
Angèle Bilodeau, Marilène Galarneau, Chantal Lefebvre, Louise Potvin
After 25 years of intersectoral practice to increase health promotion resources, there is little scientific literature linking analysis of processes to observation of effects. Applying Actor-Network Theory, this article examines how the effects of intersectoral action are produced and can be attributed to its processes. A prospective multiple case study (2013-2016) was conducted on Neighbourhood Committees (NCs) in Montreal (Canada). Three NCs were studied using four kinds of data: direct observation notes of meetings and events, documents, logbooks and interviews...
September 4, 2018: Sociology of Health & Illness
Martyn Pickersgill
Digital artefacts and infrastructures have been presented as ever more urgent and necessary for mental health research and practice. Telepsychiatry, mHealth, and now digital psychiatry have been promoted in this regard, among other endeavours. Smartphone apps have formed a particular focus of promissory statements regarding the improvement of epistemic and clinical work in psychiatry. This article contextualises and historicises some of these developments. In doing so, I show how purportedly novel fields have been constituted in part through practices of 'performative nominalism' (whereby articulations of a neologism in relation to established and recent developments participate in producing the referent of the new term)...
September 2, 2018: Sociology of Health & Illness
Marc Alexander, Daniel Blackburn, Markus Reuber
One of the most commonly made diagnoses in secondary care memory services is functional memory disorder (FMD). FMD is non-progressive and characterised by persistent worries about memory failures without objective evidence of cognitive impairment. This study explores how patients with FMD present their memory concerns. Utilizing video recordings of consultations between patients and neurologists in a memory clinic, we show that FMD patients account for their memory deficits as significant disruptions to their daily lives...
August 31, 2018: Sociology of Health & Illness
Emily Ross
A large body of literature engages with personal accounts of pregnancy to illustrate the subjugation of women's embodied experience by practices of biomedicine. This article explores this issue through women's accounts of sensing initial foetal movement, drawn from qualitative interviews with 15 women resident in the UK. Participants depict this aspect of pregnant embodiment as ambiguous and indefinite, in contrast to clinical and popular representations of foetal movement. In highlighting the uncertainties characteristic of this corporeal event, the article adds to literature destabilising understandings of pregnant women's and foetal bodies as bounded and distinct...
August 31, 2018: Sociology of Health & Illness
Jonna Brenninkmeijer
This article analyses the material of a European Project on Responsible Research and Innovation in Neuroenhancement (NERRI) to explore how the brain is articulated in this field. Since brains are closely connected to ideas of self, responsibility, free will and being human, and since brain metaphors have important effects on research practices and perspectives, it also matters how people talk about and use the brain. In the NERRI project, the brain is articulated as an agent interacting with or substituting the self; as a system that can, cannot or should not be analysed; and as the part of oneself that can potentially change human nature in positive and negative ways...
August 28, 2018: Sociology of Health & Illness
Rhonda M Shaw
Social scientists have recently diverged from mainstream bioethical discussion on the topic of the medical use of human biological materials for therapeutic, reproductive and research purposes. Rather than justifying the donation and provision of biological materials solely in terms of alleviating physical, psychological and social suffering, saving or enhancing life, and advancing biomedical knowledge, this work looks beyond humanist bioethics to take a social justice approach to questions of the life sciences...
August 28, 2018: Sociology of Health & Illness
Korhonen Maija, Komulainen Katri
Being on sick leave due to burnout entails a high level of accountability. Persons suffering from burnout do not automatically play a legitimate sick role because of the fuzziness of the burnout concept. In addition, while being on sick leave, they are in a non-working position, which is against the ideals of work-centred society. Therefore, they are required to explain their 'deviant' situation. Drawing on the interview data, the article explores how sick leave is explained and justified in narrative accounts by Finnish burnout sufferers...
August 26, 2018: Sociology of Health & Illness
Susanna Trnka, Tereza Stöckelová
A. L. Cochrane's Effectiveness and Efficiency frequently appears as a key reference in debates over, and a justification for, contemporary evidence-based medicine. Cochrane's concern in this text with the equality of care as the ultimate rationale for why effectiveness and efficiency of cure are needed has, however, largely disappeared from debate. In this article, we reconsider Cochrane's approach through the use of case studies of plural forms of medicine in the Czech Republic, namely traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy and spa care...
August 26, 2018: Sociology of Health & Illness
Oscar J Maldonado Castañeda
This paper analyses the tensions between scientific literature and systematic reviews in the production of evidence in healthcare. Systematic reviews are devices developed - within evidence-based medicine - to navigate the complexities of scientific literature promising a clear and simple account of the knowledge on a particular issue. However, in practice, systematic reviews have a more complex relation with literature. Systematic reviews are shaped according to the interest of the local groups that produce them...
August 23, 2018: Sociology of Health & Illness
Julie Kent, Maria Fannin, Sally Dowling
This paper examines how gender dynamics shape human tissue donation for research and for human health. Drawing on research investigating the donation of different types of bodily tissues including blood, plasma, breastmilk, cord blood, foetal tissue and placentae we consider how and why women and men are viewed as different kinds of donors. We situate these donation practices within a broader understanding of gender difference to explain why any sociology of donation needs to take account of gender. In so doing we explore how tissue derived from the bodies of women acquires value in distinctive ways and for distinctive purposes and reasons...
August 13, 2018: Sociology of Health & Illness
Jens Kandt
Persistent health inequalities pose a continued research and policy challenge in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. Current approaches to health research and promotion are predicated on a distinction between wider, social structural causes and individual, health-related behaviours often conceived of as lifestyle choices. Drawing on Bourdieu's theory of social practice, this paper develops an integrated perspective by observing associations between health and structured lifestyle practices. Using the UK Understanding Society household survey, a taxonomy of eight lifestyle clusters is identified, which exhibit significant health inequalities on a number of indicators...
August 13, 2018: Sociology of Health & Illness
Abigail Baim-Lance, Daniel Tietz, Hazel Lever, Madeleine Swart, Bruce Agins
The financial and capacity pressures facing healthcare systems call for new strategies to deliver high-quality, efficient services. 'Coproduction' is a concept gaining recognition as an approach to create patient partnerships that enable better functioning healthcare systems. Yet, this framing obscures coproduction's 'everyday and unavoidable' character, already part of healthcare service delivery. This paper aims to understand these everyday and unavoidable dimensions of coproduced healthcare services by drawing upon thematic and process analyses of a 15-month ethnography of 45 patients in three HIV clinics in New York...
August 6, 2018: Sociology of Health & Illness
Merran Toerien, Markus Reuber, Rebecca Shaw, Roderick Duncan
The normative view that patients should be offered more choice both within and beyond the UK's National Health Service (NHS) has been increasingly endorsed. However, there is very little research on whether - and how - this is enacted in practice. Based on 223 recordings of neurology outpatient consultations and participants' subsequent self-reports, this article shows that 'option-listing' is a key practice for generating the perception of choice. The evidence is two-fold: first, we show that neurologists and patients overwhelmingly reported that choice was offered in those consultations where option-listing was used; second, we demonstrate how option-listing can be seen, in the interaction itself, to create a moment of choice for the patient...
August 3, 2018: Sociology of Health & Illness
Niels Christian Mossfeldt Nickelsen
Telecare can offer a unique experience of trust in patient-nurse relationships, embracing new standards for professional discretion among nurses, but also reflects an increasingly complicated relationship between nurses and doctors. The study uses ethnographic methodology in relation to a large 5 million euro project at four hospitals caring for 120 patients with COPD. Twenty screen-mediated conferences were observed and two workshops, centring on nurses' photo elucidation of the practice of telecare, were conducted with a focus on shifting tasks, professional discretion, responsibility and boundaries between nurses and doctors...
August 3, 2018: Sociology of Health & Illness
Oli Williams, Simone Fullagar
Despite political change over the past 25 years in Britain there has been an unprecedented national policy focus on the social determinants of health and population-based approaches to prevent chronic disease. Yet, policy impacts have been modest, inequalities endure and behavioural approaches continue to shape strategies promoting healthy lifestyles. Critical public health scholarship has conceptualised this lack of progress as a problem of 'lifestyle drift' within policy whereby 'upstream' social contributors to health inequalities are reconfigured 'downstream' as a matter of individual behaviour change...
August 2, 2018: Sociology of Health & Illness
Mark Pawson, Christian Grov
Since the 2012 FDA approval of HIV Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) as a method to prevent HIV, its uptake among gay and bisexual men has been met with conflict. Drawing on discussions of PrEP from focus groups with gay and bisexual men in New York City (N = 5 groups, n = 32 participants), we sought to make meaning of the moral debate surrounding the implementation of biomedical HIV prevention medications. Grounded in the constructionist perspective on social problems, this case study focuses on the competing claims making activities gay and bisexual men engage in when framing PrEP and PrEP users...
July 27, 2018: Sociology of Health & Illness
Sierra Holland
Medical interactions around reproduction are increasingly extending beyond the physician's office and onto the Internet, where negotiation with medical authority occurs in complex and dynamic ways. Recently, scholars have noted the Internet's potential for creating spaces where women can dialogue with and reconstruct medical authority, yet this growing body of work is overwhelming heteronormative. This paper thus interrogates how lesbian women use the Internet to challenge, deploy, and rework medical authority around reproduction while navigating the transition to parenthood...
July 26, 2018: Sociology of Health & Illness
Josefine Antoniades, Danielle Mazza, Bianca Brijnath
The nexus between social networks and illness behaviours is important in uptake of health care, however scant research has explored this relationship in South Asian migrants living with mental illness. We explored the interplay between culture, social networks and health seeking in Sri Lankan migrants and Anglo-Australians living with depression. Forty-eight in-depth interviews were conducted and data were analysed through the theoretical prism of the network episode model. Results showed that social networks were important in negotiating care...
July 11, 2018: Sociology of Health & Illness
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