Doing Healthcare Research Differently: An Introduction to SocioHealthLab’s Special Video S...
Critical Research and Perspectives - Fall 2022

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; Rebecca E. Olson, PhD; and Jenny Setchell, PhD

Download the article (pdf)


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 installments within our special video series with the Journal of Humanities in Rehabilitation, both guided by the artistic direction of developmental sociologist, political scientist, and award-winning documentary filmmaker Andreas Hernandez. Like the first installment, these five videos/stories take many forms and have a variety of foci. Bonnie Cheng’s video1 is a poetic meditation on navigating the question ‘Will I get better?’ with people experiencing aphasia. Lynda Shevellar’s video2 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 healthcare professionals’ journeys through COVID-19. Finally, Chloe Bryant’s piece5 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 installment 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 installment, we learn and share with others our values that 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

‘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 25 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; Christian Seja, MDP; Phillipa Johnson, MNTCW; and Adrienne McGhee, PhD

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; and Daniela Montano Wilhelms, MD

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 recognize 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 healthcare professionals address sexuality after spinal cord injury. Chloe discusses the importance of supporting a person’s sexual and intimacy needs after they have sustained a spinal cord injury. The video discusses how stigma and assumptions impact 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 healthcare context.


  1. Cheng, B. (2022). A difficult conversation. Journal of Humanities in Rehabilitation, 9(2).
  2. Shevellar, L. (2022). Supporting wellbeing for international students in tertiary education: A collective narrative approach. Journal of Humanities in Rehabilitation, 9(2).
  3. Plage, S. (2022). Voice and image: A case study of dis/embodied research on cancer survivorship. Journal of Humanities in Rehabilitation, 9(2).
  4. Olson, R., & Wilhelms, D. (2022). Uncharted waters: Metaphor and health professionals’ stories of COVID-19. Journal of Humanities in Rehabilitation, 9(2).
  5. Bryant, C. (2022). Let’s talk about sexuality…after a spinal cord injury. Journal of Humanities in Rehabilitation, 9(2).
  6. Loveless, N. (2019). How to make art and the end of the world: A manifesto for research-creation. Duke University Press.

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)

Dr Setchell is Senior Research Fellow, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Queensland, Australia. Research interests include critical perspectives on rehabilitation and physiotherapy, and using post-modern and new-materialist theories to enhance healthcare equity. Dr Setchell has received numerous grants and awards, including a prestigious NHMRC Fellowship. They have 20 years of diverse clinical physiotherapy experience, primarily in the musculoskeletal sub-discipline. Dr Setchell is co-founder of the Critical Physiotherapy Network, an international network of physiotherapists across 30+ countries working toward more socio-politically conscious rehabilitation. Dr Setchell has been an acrobat and a human rights worker.


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