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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Additional Researchers Include:

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

Video Series

Walter Perry the founding Vice Chancellor of the Open University had a vision for the university to be at the cutting edge of both education and research and was instrumental in ensuring that the OU engaged in research in Health and Wellbeing. 50 years on we take a look at some of the exciting work taking place today. ‘Walter was adamant that the university was committed to high-quality...

MK Innovates Festival

The festival showcased Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics excellence in Milton Keynes on 11th October 2019. Open University's Health and Wellbeing Strategic Research Area hosted a stand to showcase the breadth and depth of our research. A few pictures posted here from the...

Early Career Research Grant awarded by the AHRC

Dr Victoria Newton, Senior Research Fellow, has been awarded an Early Career Research Grant by the AHRC for a project titled Reproductive Bodylore: the role of vernacular knowledge in women's contraceptive decision-making. The project draws together folklore studies and health research. An approach which is uniquely innovative and novel. The study of vernacular knowledge can tell us much about...

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