My research speciality is in the medical sociology and the sociology of health and illness. There are three overlapping strands of my particular research interests. One strand is on cancer research that has to date focused on trying to understand inequitable health system outcomes for Māori. This research was in three phases: decision-making in multidisciplinary teams, the cancer consultation and patient accounts of their cancer journey. A second strand is on medication use in households. I have had a particular interest in the kinds of therapeutic practices undertaken in households and how they can both draw on and undermine dominant therapeutic modalities. I have utilised a range of different theoretical perspectives to enhance our understanding of everyday medication practices. A third strand of my research focuses on the detailed examination of interactions between health professionals and patients. This strand has particularly drawn on the methodology of conversation analysis – a form of analysis that I have pioneered the use of in health care settings in New Zealand. One outcome of this approach is the establishment of the Applied Research on Communication in Health group based at the Wellington Medical School, of which I am a founding member and co-director. This group has built up a large corpus of health professional-patient interactional data that is a valuable resource for the research community in New Zealand. In this research I have explored a range of issues including how health practitioners manage interactional dilemmas (such as having to following protocols but also deal with issues of interactional delicacy). A linking thread in these strands of research is an interest in legitimation practices – examining the ways in which particular actions are given credibility and validity.
Areas of Research / Professional Expertise
Sociology of Health and illness