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Durham University

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Dr Megan Wainwright, PhD

Honorary Fellow in the Department of Anthropology

(email at

I completed my PhD in Medical Anthropology at Durham University in 2013 and subsequently became an Honorary Fellow in the department. Since the PhD I have completed postdoctoral work and fellowships in the Centre for Medical Humanities at Durham University and the Division of Social and Behavioural Sciences, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town (2014-2018). At Durham I have been involved in global health diplomacy research with Dr Andrew Russell and was an international collaborator on the Life of Breath project in the Centre for Medical Humanities for which I have made regular visits to Durham.

My main areas of ethnographic research have been on the topic of chronic illness and the intersection of public health and medical anthropology. The research I carried-out while an NRF postdoctoral fellow at the University of Cape Town was entitled “Using, providing and producing home oxygen therapy: A comparative ethnographic study”. The research involved fieldwork in Cape Town and Montevideo on the day to day practices and experiences surrounding the use of medicinal oxygen across public and private healthcare. In addition to investigating policy in practice, I am focused on how oxygen is conceptualized and experienced by health workers and patients. This work builds upon my PhD thesis on living-with and caring for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Uruguay (examined by Prof. Mark Nichter and Prof. Bob Simpson). I also have a special interest in experiential learning and field schools. I was a travelling lecturer on the SIT's study abroad program (IHP - Health and Community: Globalization, Culture and Care) in 2013 and was a community health research methods field school mentor in Cape Town between 2014 and 2016. As part of a separate pedogogy postdoctoral fellowship at UCT I also conducted research on the field school itself.

In 2018 I relocated to rural Portugal where I work as a freelance consultant. I work remotely on a variety of projects outside and inside of Portugal as a qualitative research specialist. As a consultant, my role is to support projects to optimize their research designs, use of creative methdodologies, and qualitative analysis. I am actively involved in methodological development in the area of qualitative evidence syntheses/systematic reviews and am a member of the GRADE-CERQual coodrinating team. I also provide training for NVivo software for qualitative data management and analysis. Since 2018 I have been working on an implementation research project based in Canada led by Dr. Myra Piat on the topic of implementing mental health recovery guidelines into services. I also still enjoy a bit of teaching! In 2020 I taught a 10-week online course in Searching for and Systematizing the Use of Qualitative Evidence for health technology assessment professionals in the Brazilian Ministry of Public Health.


Research Groups

Department of Anthropology

Research Interests

  • Applied anthropology
  • Chronic disease
  • Encounters in healthcare
  • Ethical Dilemmas and the Political Economy of Health
  • Ethnography and qualitative methods
  • Experiential pedagogy
  • Medical anthropology
  • Public health
  • Qualitative Evidence Synthesis
  • Sensorial Anthropology
  • Socio-cultural anthropology

Indicators of Esteem

  • Arthur Maurice Hocast Prize 2009:

    This annual prize, administered by the Royal Anthropological Institute, is awarded to the best postgraduate essay on an anthropological topic from across Great Britain and Ireland. Essay title: Taking Constipation Seriously: An Ethnographic Study of the Patient's Perspective on Illness Experience and Interactions in Healthcare.

  • Dryburn Research Prize 2010:

    Awarded by a panel of three judges from the University Hospital of North Durham for the research entitled: An Ethnographic Investigation of Chronic Constipation Patients Experience of Illness and Healthcare Relationships

Selected Publications

Chapter in book

  • Wainwright, M (2016). Rebellion and Co-Morbidity. In The Routledge Handbook of Medical Anthropology. Manderson,L, Hardon, A & Cartwright, E Routledge.

Conference Paper

Conference Proceeding

  • Arnaert, A. & Wainwright, M. (2008). Preliminary Results of a Home Telecare Project for Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Canadian Respiratory Conference: A Breath of Fresh Air:, Montreal, Canada, Candian Respiratory Journal.

Doctoral Thesis

Edited Journal

Journal Article

Other (Digital/Visual Media)

Other (Print)

  • Colvin, C., Wainwright, M., Noyes, J., Munthe-Kaas, H., Garside, R., Carlsen, B., Rashidian, A., Booth, A., Glenton,C., Bohren, M., Lewin, S. & Tuncalp, O. (2015). Confidence in the Evidence from Reviews of Qualitative research (CERQual): Development and Future Directions of a Novel Approach. Cochrane Methods (Suppl 1): 45-47.
  • Wainwright, M. (2013). Faltar el aire. Enfermedad pulmonar obstructiva cronica en Uruguay. Anuario de Antropologia Social y Cultural en Uruguay 11: 275-278.

Show all publications

Selected Grants

  • 2017: AHRC-MRC GCRF Global Public Health: Partnership (Co-Investigator)
  • 2016: Brocher Foundation Workshop Grant (co-applicant)
  • 2015: Brocher Foundation Workshop Grant (co-applicant)
  • 2014: Postdoctoral Fellowship, National Research Foundation of South Africa
  • 2012: Santander Mobility Grant, Durham University
  • 2011: Santander Mobility Grant, Durham University
  • 2010: Society of Latin American Studies Travel Grant
  • 2009: An ethnographic study of chronic constipation patients' experiences of illness and healthcare relationships (£1500.00 from )
  • 2009: Research and Development Springboard Grant, County Durham and Darlington Foundation Trust for MSc field work
  • 2009: Van Mildert College Trust Research Scholarship for 3 year PhD
  • 2008: Durham Academic Scholarship
  • 2004: McConnell Award, McGill University Scholarship
  • 2003: Julie Zachau Memorial Scholarship

International Collaboration

  • Grupo Antropologia y Salud, Universidad de la Republica, Uruguay
  • McGill Qualitative Health Research Group (MQHRG)