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Trine Laura Overgaard Nielsen

Reorganising Cancer Follow-up. A Design Anthropological Study on Intervention and Development

2017.08.01 | Trine Laura Overgaard Nielsen

Title and short overview of your PhD thesis. My PhD thesis is entitled “Reorganising Cancer Follow-up. A Design Anthropological Study on Intervention and Development”. The PhD thesis explores the implementation process of new follow-up programs for patients who have finished their treatment of cancer. Instead of using fixed time-intervals, the follow-up will now be designed to the needs of the individual patient. Overall, we see a change from standardised treatment in the specialist sector to the general practitioner (GP) as a key actor in identifying potential signs of recurrence. In my PhD thesis, I will follow the implementation process from policy level to the work in general practice.

The nature of your ‘non-written work'. In addition to the traditional ethnographic fieldwork consisting of 8-months of participant observation and interviews, the PhD thesis will build on two workshops set up to explore unsettled and imagined possibilities for the cancer follow-up. Due to the very early phase of the PhD study (starting July 2017), the nature of the non-written work is still not determined. One idea is to have the oncologists, GPs and patients to take pictures in their everyday (work) life. A busy waiting room at the GP might illustrate the lack of time to take care of a new group of patients. A GP’s hand on an old woman’s hand tells the story of the emphatic and close relationship between the GP and the patients. On the other hand, a picture of a new and advanced PET scan at the hospital can be an argument of keeping the patients in the specialist sector. In that way, the pictures will function as arguments from the everyday life of the different actors. A later discussion of the pictures between the different actors will shed light on potentialities and difficulties when organising the follow-up.

In what way your ‘non-written work' relates to your PhD thesis. It is now 2 years since the first follow-up programs were supposed to initiate, but there is still no agreement on how to organise and distribute the work. This makes room for future oriented analyses. By enabling new dialogues, the hope is that the workshops – as design interventions – will serve as collaborative explorations of possible futures – some that were almost unthinkable before the intervention.

How you integrate or consider integrating your ‘non-written work' into your PhD thesis. This is still dependent on how the specific design intervention turns out. Pictures can easily be integrated in the PhD thesis.

Which scholarly traditions you base your methodology on. The methodology is rooted in a design anthropological tradition. Traditionally, anthropology has been concerned with analyses of present phenomena “what is”, whereas design is characterized by its orientation towards the future “what could be”. By applying a design anthropological approach, it is possible to engage in speculative and imaginative processes of co-producing knowledge with diverse stakeholders (Kjærsgaard et al. 2016: 5). This allows us to suggest how the cancer follow-up could actually be different.

Which difficulties you have encountered regarding your ‘non-written work’. Due to the early stage of the study, the difficulties is yet only imagined. One difficulty might be to engage the doctors in the production of the non-written material (e.g. in taking pictures and reflect upon them), since it is most likely a very unusual way for them to express themselves.

What you wish to gain from the workshop. My aim is to gain inspiration in designing my design intervention and discuss how to integrate others than text and pictures in a PhD thesis.

References:
Kjærsgaard, M. G., Halse, J., Smith, R. C., Vangkilde, K. T., Binder, T. & Otto, T. (2016). “Introduction: Design Anthropological Futures” in Smith, R. C., Vangkilde, K. T., Kjærsgaard, M. G., Otto, T., Halse, J. & Binder, T. (eds.) (2016). Design Anthropological Futures. London, New York: Bloomsbury Academic


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