Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

"When N=far too few. What can qualitative health research actually contribute with?”

Guest lecture by Professor MSO Ayo Wahlberg on 1 December

2016.11.02 | Lene Krarup Monrad

Professor MSO Ayo Wahlberg, University of Copenhagen will give a lecture entitled “When N=far too few. What can qualitative health research actually contribute with?” The lecture takes place on 1 December 2016 from 13.00-15.00 in Richard Mortensenstuen, Studenternes Hus, AU.

More people than ever before live with their diseases. There are many reasons for this, not least due to the biomedical treatments that have been developed, for example to fight cancer, diabetes or HIV/AIDS. In many western countries, up to 80 per cent of healthcare spending now goes to the treatment of chronic diseases. Concurrently with this development, we can say that life improvement (most often referred to as quality of life) has now become an equally important therapeutic goal as prolonging life. 

What significance do these trends have for health science and research today? If biomedicine focuses on how people have diseases (tissues, cells, DNA), then anthropology and other forms of qualitative health science focus on how people live with diseases (identities, life-worlds, practices). In interdisciplinary collaboration, partners have a tendency to assess other types of knowledge, methods and facts based on their own criteria. But what if we equated knowledge generated from histologies, blood tests, DNA sequencing and scans with knowledge generated from participant observation, interviews and focus groups as a form of division of work, which we are otherwise so familiar with in society? And I mean equate. If biomedical knowledge is crucial in order to treat diseases in the body, then qualitative health science is equally crucial when it comes to dealing with everyday life with different diseases. The time has come for us to disregard evidence hierarchies in the cross-disciplinary collaboration between biomedicine and qualitative health research.

Research, PhD students, Graduate School of Health, Graduate School of Health, Collaboration