Helen Kara calls for doing research as if our human participants mattered

By Helen Kara

crop psychologist taking notes during appointment
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Across all academic disciplines and beyond, the way research participants are conceptualized and treated by researchers is no longer fit for purpose. As well as using more appropriate terminology, such as ‘participant’ or (where appropriate) ‘co-researcher,’ in this post, Helen Kara suggests three other main ways in which we should offer more respect to the people who help us with our research.

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Psychology’s participatory problem and five things you can do right now to fix it!

By Brett Scholz

couple holding hands
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Critical health psychologists generally want to practice acts of allyship through and beyond their work. In this post, Brett Scholz presents a call to go beyond thinking of consumers as participants in your research practice, and to instead ensure you collaborate and engage with consumers in epistemic practices. 

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The devil’s in the framing: language and bias

By Ella Whiteley

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

How we say things can be as important as what we say. In this post, Ella Whiteley explores the “framing effect”, its implications for education and research communication and in particular, its salience to discussions of sex and gender. 

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Who Decides Women’s Best Interests? Examining patient-provider power relations in counselling on long-acting reversible contraception

By Tracy Morison

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Long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) is widely accepted in most public health and family planning approaches. However, power imbalances between healthcare providers and patients make many women feel as though they are coerced into taking LARC. There is little research that considers the nature and quality of patient-provider interactions, including issues of power and women’s agency, as most scholarship in the field focuses on access. Concerns about the potential for coercion, lack of patient-centeredness, or uncritical LARC promotion are therefore under-explored, especially among ‘high-risk’ women who experience poor health and social outcomes. This study takes a much-needed look at how providers’ perspectives influence their recommendations to patients and the changes that must be implemented to help patients regain autonomy over their reproductive choices.

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Fat Pain is Not Your Profundity

By Rachel Fox

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Rachel Fox explores how doctor-writer narratives often depict fat people in dehumanising and hurtful ways, and argues they need to be reframed with empathy.

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Reframing Online Sperm Donation through the lens of Reproductive Justice

By Francesca Taylor

When I first started my PhD- an exploration of recipient experiences of online, unregulated sperm donation- I became fixated on trying to understand why people would choose this route to parenthood. Most of the things I’d read about online sperm donation were fairly sensationalist news articles which portrayed a ‘black market’ and an online ‘underworld’ where people were going to search for and donate sperm. I felt that in order to design a study where I could encourage people to tell their stories free from stigma and shame, I needed to first have some idea of the context of donor insemination in the UK, including who was choosing online sperm donation and their reasons for doing so. Why weren’t people choosing, for example, donor insemination at a fertility clinic? What were the benefits and drawbacks of online sperm donation? How did the social, cultural, and economic context of donor insemination in the UK inform what was happening online?

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Embracing Critical Theory in Quantitative Research

By Ági Szabo

Image Credit: Canva

It was 2017, my postdoc fellowship was coming to an end and I was looking for opportunities to stay in academia in Aotearoa/New Zealand. A permanent job was advertised at the university I was working at: Lecturer in Health Psychology. The focus of the position was clear, applicants needed to be critical health scholars. I had spent two years doing critical health research, publishing in the top journals of my field, so I was confident I fit the job description. I mentioned to a colleague that I was planning to apply for the role. She told me not to apply. Her advice, kindly meant, was: “Don’t bother, you are wasting your time. They will never hire a quantitative researcher. You won’t even get shortlisted.” I was taken aback by her comments.

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Resisting the Darwinian Phallocracy

By Wendy Stainton Rogers

Image credit: Canva

“Resisting the Darwinian Phallocracy” – Don’t you just love the language?! It’s from a new book out by Lucy Cooke, Bitch: A Revolutionary Guide to Sex, Evolution & the Female Animal and is full of sass like that. With a Masters in Zoology and tutored by Richard Dawkins, she explains:

I was taught that this apparently trivial disparity in our sex cells laid cast-iron biological foundations for sexual inequality. “It is possible to interpret all other differences between the sexes as stemming from this one basic difference,” Dawkins told us. “Female exploitation begins here.”

Male animals led swashbuckling lives of thrusting agency. They fought one another over leadership or possession of females. They shagged around indiscriminately, propelled by a biological imperative to spread their seed far and wide. And they were socially dominant; where males led, females meekly followed. A female’s role was as selfless mother, naturally; as such, maternal efforts were deemed all alike: we had zero competitive edge. Sex was a duty rather than a drive.

And as far as evolution was concerned it was males who drove the bus of change. We females could hop on for a ride thanks to shared DNA, as long as we promised to keep nice and quiet.

Lucy Cooke
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‘Porn Literacy’ is a great idea… right?

By Siobhán Healy-Cullen

When I embarked on my doctoral research in 2018 I was interested in how young people made sense of gendered images in online pornography. I was also interested in what caregivers and teachers thought about young people’s pornography use. A new, in vogue,  term called “porn literacy” caught my eye. In those  early stages of the project, I thought “Sounds good… Why not talk to young people about pornography!? It’s clearly something many young people engage with, and to ignore or censor it would be like other prohibitive interventions, which haven‘t worked!” However, as I explored  the notion of “porn literacy”, it became plain to me that the ways pornography, young people and their pornography viewing are thought about invariably shapes porn literacy as an educational response.

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Less ‘prestigious’ journals can contain more diverse research, by citing them we can shape a more just politics of citation.

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Drawing on their recent analysis of journals in the field of Higher Education Studies, which shows that journals with lower impact rankings are more likely to feature research from diverse geographic and linguistic contexts, Shannon Mason and Margaret K. Merga argue that researchers should adopt more careful citation practices, as a means to broaden and contextualise what counts as ‘prestigious’ research and create a more equitable publishing environment for research outside of core anglophone countries.

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How Dance, Gestalt and Idiographic Research Contribute to Critical Health Psychology

By Natalia Braun

Illustration used with permission: Karina Braun, Autumn Brush

Truth is in the eye of the beholder .

Ruth Hubbard.

Earlier this year, there was a paper published about the research that explored the influence of dance on embodied self-awareness and well-being (Braun & Kotera, 2021). The findings of this study provided evidence for dance as a booster of health, the way for coping with and prevention of stress, depression and loneliness, and enabler of individual and community transformations. This study was conducted applying the qualitative research method of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Often, research methods remain in the shadow when reporting about research. In this blog, I would like to shed more light on IPA that is a particularly useful method in exploring individual embodied experience with health and its impairment, and is rooted in idiography, phenomenology and hermeneutics (Smith et al., 2009).

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In between feminist and critical health psychology: Finding myself, fitting in, and flailing

By Andrea LaMarre

Photo by Alex Hamilton. Karamatura Track in the Waitakere Ranges

This blog post has been adapted from one of Andrea’s presentation at ISCHP’s 12 Biennial Conference in September 2021. Andrea was one of the recipients of the emerging researcher award.

When I consider the question of what a feminist health psychology is, I can’t help but think of myself, wandering between disciplines and literatures, trying to find a place where I feel at home. I think about a young Andrea who, despite having embodied so many privileges, felt like her emotions were too much for everyone. I think about how shrinking myself and trying to please everyone have been strategies I’ve adopted to fit into societal ideas about who I should be. I think about how in graduate school, I began to embrace a louder, more outspoken feminism that encourages emotion, sensation, and commitment to filter through and drive what I do. I think about the theorists and scholars who taught me that being critical, and being feminist, might mean seeping outside of boundaries—corporeally, theoretically, methodologically.

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What this collaboration between artists and health-care leaders teaches us about living through COVID-19

Topsy Turvy, Author provided

Barbara Doran, University of Technology Sydney; Ann Dadich, Western Sydney University; Chloe Watfern, UNSW; Katherine M Boydell, UNSW, and Stephanie Habak, UNSW

A new project that spotlights the strain from COVID-19 on our health systems and the people who work in them has invited health-care leaders and artists to create artworks that illuminate what it has been like leading, working and living through the pandemic.

The culmination of this collaboration is Topsy Turvy, an interactive digital exhibition initiated by the Knowledge Translation Strategic Platform of Maridulu Budyari Gumal SPHERE (Sydney Partnership for Health Education Research and Enterprise) whose purpose is to change the future of health care.

Topsy Turvy is a random image generator that makes combinations from a bank of drawings and text inspired by experiences of COVID-19. Users can opt to keep, delete and resize until they feel they have an image that resonates.

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Meet our new blog co-editors

Our blog has been running since 2015 and had many people pitching in to keep it a blog for the Society by the Society. Our latest blog co-editors have just been announced at the latest ISCHP conference. As it happens, all three are kiwis studying health psychology at Massey University. You can read more about them in this post.

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