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Health Discourse

The OU’s Health Discourse research group consists of researchers and practitioners from disciplines across the university with expertise in applied linguistics, narrative studies, psychology, sociology, computing, anthropology, and philosophy. The group meets once a month to discuss issues related to illness, health and language, communication, medical humanities, social health care. Our range of interests, includes among others:

  • How different groups (patients, informal carers, healthcare professionals) communicate amongst themselves or with each other;
  • How different groups perceive, describe or talk about their experiences with and attitudes to health, illness(es) and healthcare;
  • The role of multilingualism and multiculturalism in healthcare encounters;
  • The impact of technologies on healthcare interactions;
  • The role that translation & interpreting play in healthcare outcomes;
  • How public health issues are positioned in the media and the effect this has on the success of different campaigns;
  • The contribution of fiction and literature to public perceptions of illnesses;
  • How stigma around mental health can be understood and reduced;
  • The intersections between social work and disability;
  • The role of narrative in health communication and healthcare.

The group acts as a hub for the exchange and development of ideas and as a forum supporting researchers in their projects. Currently, the group is involved in a project in WELS (ASSIST) led by Kate Lister and Myria Pieridou which is looking into students’ perspectives on the disability terminology on OU module sites and student services with the aim to propose a model for language use co-created with disabled students. The project has received funding from the WELS research into OU teaching and learning fund.

The group will continue to act as a hub and support forum for researchers in health discourse. Its activities will continue to include opportunities for discussing key issues in health discourse and communication as well as internal and external speakers (both academic and practitioners). The group will encourage and support members’ research funding bidding in the area of health discourse and will be working towards a research project scoping with the aim to attract external research funds.

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Research Leaders

Korina Giaxoglou Korina Giaxoglou joined the School of Languages and Applied Linguistics at the Open University in January 2016 as a Lecturer in Applied Linguistics and English Language. Prior to that, she held a lectureship/senior lectureship post at Kingston University London where she briefly served as the Acting Head for the Department of Linguistics and Languages (Sept. – Dec. 2015). Korina also taught at Goldsmiths University and King’s College London.

Korina holds a PhD in (Modern Greek) Sociolinguistics from King’s College London, a Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching from Kingston University, an MA in Applied Linguistics from Birkbeck University of London, and a First Degree in French Language and Literature from the University of Athens.

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Nathaniel OwenNathaniel Owen started working at the Open University in summer, 2016 as a Research Associate in the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies. His role is to undertake and support research in the faculty and to identify funding opportunities for future research. He holds a PhD in the field of language testing and assessment from the University of Leicester.

A major area of interest is in testing and assessment of English as a second language. His PhD focused on comparative analysis of the reading sections of the IELTS and TOEFL iBT English language examinations. More broadly, it aligned with an interest in how human beings acquire and use language. He is also interested in the development of quantitative research instruments in social science, particularly the development of surveys and analysis of survey data.

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Health Discourse Seminar Series

Wednesday 15th November 2017, 2-3.30pm, Charles Pinfold Meeting Room, Level 4
Shut Up and Write Workshop

Wednesday 6th December 2017, 2-3.30pm, Stuart Hall, Level 2, Room 3
Data blitz: a series of bite-sized talks on current research projects

Tuesday 30th January 2018, 2-3.30pm, Stuart Hall, Ground Floor Conference Room
Research ethics workshop: snapshots of ethics conundrums in research

Tuesday 27th February 2018, 2-3.30pm, Stuart Hall, Ground Floor Conference Room
Guest talk by Olivia Knapton (King’s College London)
“Constructing space in narratives of anxiety”

Tuesday 13th March 2018, 2-3.30pm, Stuart Hall, Ground Floor Conference Room
Guest talk by Marco Pino (Loughborough University) & Ruth Parry (Nottingham University) “Discussions Between Patients and Professionals on End of Life Issues

Tuesday, 15th May 2018, 2-3.30pm, Stuart Hall, Ground Floor Conference Room
Guest talk by Zsofia Demjen (UCL) “Power, Control and the Language of Voice-hearing”

Additional Researchers Include:

If you are interested in being a part of the Health Discourse SIG please email where further details will be provided.

Save the Date – Health & Wellbeing PRA – AWAY DAY 2 July 2019

Are you a researcher interested in Health & Wellbeing? Date: 2 July, 2019 Time: TBC Location: Chicheley Hall The Health and Wellbeing PRA Team will be hosting our third annual Away Day event on 2nd July 2019 at Chicheley Hall. The aim of the day is to get health and wellbeing researchers together to develop and reflect on all aspects of health and wellbeing research. There will be talks...

Opportunities for Retreats, Writing Days, Sandpits and Meetings

We are delighted to announce that the PRA has several opportunities throughout the coming year for events to be held off campus.  We have availability in October 2018 and February, March, May and July 2019 for meetings to be held at Horwood Estate. These meetings would include a working lunch and refreshments for up to 10 people.  These could be used for grant writing days, scoping...

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