The Health, Society and Medicine (HSM) Research Program focuses on exploring the intersections of social change, culture, medicine/psychiatry, disability, biotechnology, lived experiences of health and illness, informal care, and digital media and narrative in health communication. HSM is dedicated to understanding health and illness experiences in social context; supporting people’s active engagement in maintaining their health; and transforming care through influencing policy, practice and education. Our research draws on an inclusive methodology focused upon community involvement and participation. It includes national and international interdisciplinary partnerships with researchers from the critical social sciences, humanities, medicine, law, creative arts, and critical disability studies. We also engage with a wide range of industry partners in relevant cross-sector collaborations.
These aims will be achieved through a range of knowledge translation co-design activities, utilising HSM’s long-established program research underpinning Healthtalk Australia (see below), a unique online audio-visual database of health and illness experiences and related resources.
This well-established body of work explores lived experiences of mental and physical health and illness beyond the physiological processes that are the focus of biomedical science. It has two major themes:
Narrative and phenomenological research approaches are used to investigate how uncertainties surrounding experiences of living with psychiatric diagnoses, disability, and long-term physical illness or health conditions impact on and change people’s values, habits, beliefs, relationships, bodies, sense of self, and their perception of the world, with the aim of improving public understandings of these experiences. Investigation of the experiences of informal carers and health and social care practitioners is an integral part of Health & Illness, Body & Mind research.
Projects within the Health & Illness, Mind & Body Key Research Area foster interdisciplinary and cross-sector collaborations as well as the participation of people with lived experiences of health and illness and informal carers.
Healthtalk Australia is a unique online repository of research-based health and illness experiences presented in an array of formats – film, audio and text. Individual research projects within the HSM Hub’s research themes underpin development of a series of online resources, each centred on a different health or illness experience. With the aim of supporting people experiencing illness and informal carers, educating health and social care practitioners, and informing policymakers, Healthtalk Australia’s online resources form a key plank of HSM’s research translation strategy.
As a member of DIPEX International (along with 18 other universities or research institutions across Asia, Europe, North America and the Middle East), Healthtalk Australia is part of an interdisciplinary, international collaboration of researchers utilising narrative methods to explore health and illness experiences to create publicly available online resources and contribute to scholarly debates on patient-centred perspectives on health and illness.
Globally, life expectancy continues to rise. This research theme focuses on supporting the fundamental changes to health and social care systems required to address the needs of ageing populations, including these living with dementia. Work within the Ageing well in health and illness Key Research Area will explore how improvements to our physical and social environments and better use of technology can support better quality of life for older people, both in relation to and beyond the health sector. This is an emerging area of work for the HSM Research Program and we invite researchers interested in these topics to contact us to explore potential collaborations.