The biographical turn in health studies

Wendy Rickard

in Biographical methods and professional practice

Published by Policy Press

Published in print March 2004 | ISBN: 9781861344939
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447301554 | DOI:
The biographical turn in health studies

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This chapter provides an overview of existing biographical methods in health studies. The focus comes from the author's own efforts over the past few years to draw together a picture of some potentialities, challenges and possibilities of using biographical methods in health studies, both in research with marginalised groups and individuals, and in university teaching. This chapter came initially from the British oral history work in two different but highly politicised areas of HIV and AIDS, and prostitution work that the author undertook as a health promotion practitioner. Hence, in broad terms, the focus of this chapter is on oral history, life history and narrative approaches. Discussion in this chapter includes: the rise of biographical methods in health; the contribution of biographical methods in health; inherent tensions in the usage of biographical methods in health studies; interdisciplinary dialogue between professionals working in health disciplines and non-related-health fields; biographical approaches as therapeutic intervention; and health databases.

Keywords: biographical methods; health studies; oral history; life history; narrative approaches; health; interdisciplinary dialogue; biographical approaches

Chapter.  6493 words. 

Subjects: Social Research and Statistics

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