The 'doctor' or the 'girl from the University'? Considering the influence of professional roles on qualitative interviewing.
BACKGROUND: Qualitative research methods are now recognized as valuable tools for primary care. With the increasing emphasis on evidence-based medicine and critical appraisal of published work, it is important that qualitative researchers are transparent about their methods and discuss the impact of the research process on their data. OBJECTIVES: To consider the impact of the professional background of researchers on in-depth interviewing in primary care. METHODS: We compare interactions between the interviewer and respondents in two qualitative interview studies of heart disease. Both samples consisted of 60 middle-aged men and women from a range of social backgrounds living in the West of Scotland. One study was conducted by a GP and the other by a sociologist. RESULTS: Some interview interactions were common to both researchers; for example, interviews were often regarded by respondents as therapeutic. However, some interactions seemed to be related to the researcher's professional background. The GP's perceived higher status led to obscuring of her personal characteristics. The sociologist was often perceived as a 'young woman' rather than defined by her professional role. Thus respondents' perceptions of the interviewer influenced the interview interactions. CONCLUSIONS: Appraising qualitative research depends on the transparency with which the research process is described. Awareness of professional background is particularly important for university departments of primary care (which often include doctors, nurses and social scientists) and should be considered carefully in designing, carrying out and disseminating the results of qualitative studies. (+info)
The scientist's world.
This paper describes the features of the world of science, and it compares that world briefly with that of politics and the law. It also discusses some "postmodern" trends in philosophy and sociology that have been undermining confidence in the objectivity of science and thus have contributed indirectly to public mistrust. The paper includes broader implications of interactions of government and science. (+info)
Psychosocial aspects of abortion. A review of issues and needed research.
The literature on psychosocial aspects of abortion is confusing. Individual publications must be interpreted in the context of cultural, religious, and legal constraints obtaining in a particular society at a given time, with due attention to the status and availability of alternatives to abortion that might be chosen by a woman with an "unwanted" pregnancy. A review of the literature shows that, where careful pre- and post-abortion assessments are made, the evidence is that psychological benefit commonly results, and serious adverse emotional sequelae are rare. The outcome of refused abortion seems less satisfactory, with regrets and distress frequently occurring. Research on the administration of abortion services suggests that counselling is often of value, that distress is frequently caused by delays in deciding upon and in carrying out abortions, and by unsympathetic attitudes of service providers. The phenomenon of repeated abortion seeking should be seen in the context of the availability and cost of contraception and sterilization. The place of sterilization with abortion requires careful study. A recommendation is made for observational descriptive research on populations of women with potentially unwanted pregnancies in different cultures, with comparisons of management systems and an evaluation of their impact on service users. (+info)
The transition from quantity to quality: a neglected causal mechanism in accounting for social evolution.
Students of social evolution are concerned not only with the general course it has followed, but also with the mechanisms that have brought it about. One such mechanism comes into play when the quantitative increase in some entity, usually population, reaching a certain threshold, gives rise to a qualitative change in the structure of a society. This mechanism, first recognized by Hegel, was seized on by Marx and Engels. However, neither they nor their current followers among anthropologists have made much use of it in attempting to explain social evolution. But as this paper attempts to show, in those few instances when the mechanism has been invoked, it has heightened our understanding of the process of social evolution. And, it is argued, if the mechanism were more widely applied, further understanding of the course of evolution could be expected to result. (+info)
Health impact assessment: a tool for healthy public policy.
Healthy Public Policy is one of the key health promotion actions. Advancement of Healthy Public Policy requires that the health consequences of policy should be correctly foreseen and that the policy process should be influenced so that those health consequences are considered. Health Impact Assessment is an approach that could assist in meeting both requirements. Policies often produce health impacts by multiple indirect routes, which makes prediction difficult. Prediction in Health Impact Assessment may be based on epidemiological models or on sociological disciplines. Health Impact Assessment must be based on an understanding of, and aim to add value to, the policy-making process. It must therefore conform to policy-making timetables, present information in a form that is policy relevant and fit the administrative structures of policy makers. Health Impact Assessment may be used to inform health advocacy but is distinct from it. There is a danger that Health Impact Assessment could be misunderstood as health imperialism. (+info)
Human facial expressions as adaptations: Evolutionary questions in facial expression research.
The importance of the face in social interaction and social intelligence is widely recognized in anthropology. Yet the adaptive functions of human facial expression remain largely unknown. An evolutionary model of human facial expression as behavioral adaptation can be constructed, given the current knowledge of the phenotypic variation, ecological contexts, and fitness consequences of facial behavior. Studies of facial expression are available, but results are not typically framed in an evolutionary perspective. This review identifies the relevant physical phenomena of facial expression and integrates the study of this behavior with the anthropological study of communication and sociality in general. Anthropological issues with relevance to the evolutionary study of facial expression include: facial expressions as coordinated, stereotyped behavioral phenotypes, the unique contexts and functions of different facial expressions, the relationship of facial expression to speech, the value of facial expressions as signals, and the relationship of facial expression to social intelligence in humans and in nonhuman primates. Human smiling is used as an example of adaptation, and testable hypotheses concerning the human smile, as well as other expressions, are proposed. (+info)
Living in the paddies: a social science perspective on how inland valley irrigated rice cultivation affects malaria in Northern Cote d'Ivoire.
The potential impact of irrigated agriculture on water-related vector-borne diseases has been an increasing source of concern for researchers from the bio-medical sector. While most research on the potential impacts of irrigation on the health of local populations focuses on vector densities, levels of exposures, health services and technologies (prophylaxis, mosquito nets), we argue that it is essential to enlarge the scope of investigation and consider the complex mechanisms by which factors such as agriculture-generated changes in ecosystems, gender repositioning in the family organization as a result of access to new crops, and production activities combine together in increasing disease risks and producing new scenarios in the management of disease. This paper presents the results of an investigation of how transformations induced on the local society by the intensification of inland valley irrigated rice cultivation influence malaria health care systems and modulate risks to the health of local populations, within well-defined geographical boundaries in northern Cote d'Ivoire. Our results indicate that socio-economic transformations and gender repositioning induced, or facilitated, by the intensification of inland valley irrigated rice cultivation lead to a reduction of the capacity of women to manage disease episodes, contributing therefore to increase malaria incidence among farming populations. (+info)
Epidemiology in the social sciences.
The techniques and principles of epidemiology, so successfully utilized in the study and control of communicable diseases, should be applied to other mass phenomena in the community. The local health officer should apply them in his "diagnosis" of the sicknesses of his organized community. Epidemiological methods have been used to study mental diseases as well as chronic diseases, and an experiment in using epidemiological methods on the county level to study psychosocial disorders has been carried out. The impact of psychosocial episodes on somatic diseases is now generally accepted and well documented. Individual practitioners of medicine are becoming more interested in the significance of social tensions on the health of their patients. Public health physicians, specialists in preventive medicine, are the best equipped by training and experience to take the leadership in the application of epidemiological methods to sociomedical problems and are in a unique position to assist their colleagues in the private practice of medicine in providing modern helpful and meaningful health protection to their patients.Organized medicine might well become more cognizant of the sociological changes taking place in the nation as they relate to health and assume the responsibility for aggressive leadership in the anticipation of and the solution of these problems. (+info)