Doing healthcare research differently: An introduction to SocioHealthLab’s Special Video S...

Doing healthcare research differently: An introduction to SocioHealthLab’s Special Video Series, Part 2

Doing healthcare research differently: An introduction to SocioHealthLab’s Special Video Series, Part 2

By Tim Barlott, PhD, MScRS, BScOT; Rebecca E. Olson, PhD, BA (Hons); and Jenny Setchell, PhD, BSc (Pty)


Established in 2019, SocioHealthLab is a research collective of health and social science researchers, practitioners and students from Australia and around the world, striving for healthcare transformation through applied, justice-oriented, theory-driven, creative and collaborative socio-cultural research. In short, we come together to challenge each other to do health and healthcare differently.

This is the second of two instalments within our special video series with the Journal of Humanities in Rehabilitation, both guided by the artistic direction of development sociologist, political scientist and award-winning documentary filmmaker, Andreas Hernandez. Like the first instalment, these five videos/stories take many forms and have a variety of foci. Bonnie Cheng’s1 video is a poetic meditation on navigating the question ‘Will I get better?’ with people experiencing aphasia. Lynda Shevellar’s2 video engages a plurality of voices and images to evocatively explore collective narratives of international students in an Australian university. A different take on ‘voice’ comes from Stefanie Plage3 and her research participant ‘Luke’ as they entangle in the social complexities of smoking and cancer. The submission from Rebecca Olson and Daniela Wilhelms4 draws together Wilhelms’ photographic and video art with metaphor to bring meaning to health care professionals’ journies through COVID-19. Finally, Chloe Bryant’s5 piece examines healthcare related to sex and intimacy in the disability space.

The storytelling found in this special series is part of our becoming. Stories are how communities teach one another their values, produce theories on how the world works and rework one’s place in it. Stories, and the storying of this video series, also invite us to transgress our disciplinarity – the authors in this second instalment cut across health disciplines, sociology, community development, and methodological and theoretical approaches. The artful crafting of stories opens us to what Natalie Loveless6 refers to as ‘polydisciplinamory’, affectionately “pushing at, and defamiliarizing, the limits of disciplinary boundaries” (p. 60). Through the stories in this second instalment of our special series we learn and share with others our values which cut across and agitate our disciplinarity: vulnerability, justice, (more-than)human-centred approaches to care and a deep curiosity in theory’s transformative potentiation.

The videos are designed to be a multi-sensory experience, differing from usual academic forms of expression. They are brief, so put aside a little time, find a quiet space, put on some headphones and join us in our stories.

SocioHealthLab is an inclusive research collective where anyone is welcome to participate in our conversations on health and healthcare. After spending some time with our story/stories in this special series, you may wish to join our collective. You can find more information about us – including our contact details – on our website: .

A difficult conversation

By Bonnie Cheng, PhD, BSpPath (Hons)

‘Will I get better?’ is something most patients want to know. But, for aphasia – a language impairment that can leave someone unable to speak, read, write, or understand words – there’s no straightforward answer. Through a series of semi-structured interviews with twenty-five speech pathologists working with people living with aphasia, the intricacies of balancing hope with realistic expectations while navigating uncertainty were explored. Here are the findings in poetry.

Voice and image: A case study of dis/embodied research on cancer survivorship

By Stefanie Plage, PhD

In this video, Stefanie Plage reflects on her experience conducting research on cancer survivorship combining participant-produced photography and story-telling with Luke, a research participant diagnosed with lung, prostate and throat cancer. Luke and Stefanie grapple with the socio-cultural meanings attributed to smoking and cancer, the feelings we bring to our research and how these complexities bear on our capacities to voice, picture, see and listen.

Supporting wellbeing for international students in tertiary education: A collective narrative approach.

By Lynda Shevellar (PhD, MEd (T&D), PGDipPsych, GCHEd, BA), Christian Seja (MDP, MSc(Econ), BSc(Econ), Phillipa Johnson (MNTCW, GC Com Dev, BA), & Adrienne McGhee (PhD, GCertDisSt, BPsych, BA)

International students face unique challenges during their university experiences, including language and cultural differences, adapting to new environments, and academic demands. This project sought to better understand wellbeing for 13 international postgraduate students. Collective Narrative Practice was employed to explore the hardships international students faced, as well as what sustained them through hard times. The results suggest that despite the growth of the mass tertiary education system, not only is there still a vital place for local, small-scale responses to students, but that in our increasingly globalised digital world, local dialogical responses may make the fundamental difference to student learning.

Uncharted waters: Metaphor and health professionals’ stories of COVID-19

By Rebecca Olson, PhD, BA (Hons) & Daniela Montano Wilhelms, MD, MS

COVID-19 has overwhelmed all of us, especially healthcare professionals. Storytelling is central to recovery: allowing us to recognize ourselves in another’s tale, turn an object of fear into something more familiar, and find meaning in suffering. In this video, we offer a cinematic sequel to research into Australian, Brazilian and New Zealand health professionals’ COVID-19 narratives. We blend familiar water metaphors into our storytelling, helping us attune our emotions and make tumultuous stories familiar, as we recognise ourselves in the unfolding tale, and reflect on who and how to be.

Let’s talk about sexuality… after a spinal cord injury

By Chloe Bryant, BOccThy (Hons)

“Pleasure is a human right for all people. We should strive to be inclusive and to encourage enjoyment and pleasure from intimacy.”

In this video, Chloe Bryant discusses her PhD research which has explored how health care professionals address sexuality after a spinal cord injury. Chloe discusses the importance of supporting a person’s sexual and intimacy needs after sustaining a spinal cord injury. The video discusses how stigma and assumptions impact on how we view sexuality and disability in society. It challenges viewers to consider how we can improve the way that sexuality is viewed and addressed within a health care context.

Tim Barlott, PhD, MScRS, BScOT

Tim Barlott, PhD, MSc, Grad Cert (Community-Based Participatory Research) BScOT, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at the University of Alberta and Co-Director of the SocioHealthLab at The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia. Tim’s research is at the interface of health service delivery and the sociology of health, interrogating the socio-political aspects of everyday life and pursuing affirmative/transformative possibilities. In particular, Tim is interested in allyship and the value of freely-given relationships in community mental health, considered through post-modern and new materialist theoretical perspectives. Using community-based approaches, Tim’s research is built on collaborative relationships with community partners and the co-construction of research processes. Tim’s research is published across sociology, rehabilitation, occupational science, occupational therapy, philosophy, and qualitative methods. Tim has over 15 years of experience as a community practitioner (occupational therapist, addictions counsellor, and youth worker), educator, and participatory researcher in Canada, Australia, and internationally.


Rebecca E. Olson, PhD, BA (Hons)

Rebecca E. Olson is an Associate Professor in Sociology, University of Queensland. Funded by competitive national grants, her research intersects the sociologies of health and emotion. As a leading innovative qualitative researcher, Olson employs video-based, participatory, reflexive, post-qualitative and post-paradigmatic approaches to inform translational inquiry in healthcare and healthcare education settings. Her recent books include Towards a Sociology of Cancer Caregiving: Time to Feel (Routledge, 2015) and Emotions in Late Modernity (Routledge, 2019, co-edited with Patulny, Bellocchi, Khorana, McKenzie and Peterie). Olson also minored in political theatre and has been a dancer or community dance teacher for most of her life.


Jenny Setchell, PhD, BSc (Pty)

Jenny Setchell, PhD, BScPT, Grad Cert (Clin PT), is a Senior Research Fellow (NHMRC) at the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Queensland (Australia); and Adjunct Scientist at the Bloorview Research Institute. Her research interests include critical perspectives on rehabilitation, and on physiotherapy specifically. She is particularly interested in post-modern and new-materialist theories. Dr. Setchell has been awarded 10+ fellowships and awards for her work and has presented and published extensively across disciplines. She has 20 years of diverse clinical physiotherapy experience in Australia and internationally, primarily in the musculoskeletal and sports sub-disciplines. Dr. Setchell is co-founder of the executive committee of the Critical Physiotherapy Network, an international network of more than 700 physiotherapists across 30+ countries working toward more critical, sociopolitical understandings of rehabilitation. She co-edited the first collection of critical physiotherapy work in book form, Manipulating Practices: A Critical Physiotherapy Reader. Dr. Setchell has also been an acrobat and a human rights worker.


Stefanie Plage, PhD

Stefanie Plage is a postdoctoral research fellow at the School of Social Science, and a fellow at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course. Her research explores the intersections of culture and experience in health and illness.


Lynda Shevellar, PhD, MEd (T&D), PGDipPsych, GCHEd, BA

Dr Lynda Shevellar is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Social Science at The University of Queensland, where she researches and teaches in areas of social inequality, community development, ethical practice, and participatory research methods. Lynda has a particular interest in the development of psychological safety in learning, to help maximise belonging. Lynda’s highly interactive approach to teaching is underpinned by thirty years of experience in community development, the disability sector, mental health, and higher education.


Christian Seja, MDP, MSc(Econ), BSc(Econ)

Christian Seja is a community development practitioner, working at a place based social enterprise in the North of Brisbane, which provides meaningful employment for people with intellectual disabilities. He is passionate about storytelling, doing participatory co-research and democratic and inclusive workplaces. Christian graduated from The University of Queensland as an international student with a Master of Development Practice. His Master’s thesis focused on the wellbeing of international students at an Australia university using a participatory framework.


Phillipa Johnson, MNTCW, GC Com Dev, BA

Phillipa Johnson has worked extensively in the social services sector and held multiple counselling and community work roles. Through her work she offers an authentic and gentle therapeutic presence which honors the strength, survivance and dignity of those she supports. Phillipa’s practice is grounded in a belief that we are all embodied beings and as such, she contributes to relational experiences which honor inter-subjectivity, deep safety and nurture.


Adrienne McGhee, PhD, GCertDisSt, BPsych, BA

Adrienne McGhee is a consultant in the human services industry in south-east Queensland, Australia, whose doctoral thesis explored practitioner knowledge in frontline disability service provision. She is passionate about supporting social justice for marginalised people and honouring local knowledge in human service provision, and works to support the voices of all participants in the human services endeavour - from those individuals who seek services to those who deliver them.


Daniela Montano Wilhelms, MD, MS

Daniela Montano Wilhelms is a community physician with an MS in Epidemiology based in Porto Alegre, Brazil. She is the president of the Research Ethics Committee of Conceição Hospital Complex as well as the Womens' Health Coordinator for twelve community health clinics. Daniela was a founding preceptor of a nationally recognized multidisciplinary residency curriculum in Family and Community Health and has published interdisciplinary and participatory health research. In her photographic work, Daniela explores the interconnections, intimacies and luminosities of the Web of Life. She lives in the Caminho do Meio Ecovillage.


Chloe Bryant, BOccThy (Hons)

Chloe Bryant graduated with a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (Honours) from The University of Queensland in 2017. Chloe has since worked as an occupational therapist in acute care, rehabilitation, and community settings and is a PhD candidate at the University of Queensland. Her doctoral research focuses on how multidisciplinary teams support sexuality after a spinal cord injury. Chloe is also the chair of Australian occupational therapy sexuality special interest group and is a clinical educator for undergraduate occupational therapy students.


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