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Durham University

Research & business

Helping to understand hidden health issues

(16 November 2020)

Our researchers are trying to get a better understanding of what it’s like to live with some of the most challenging and misunderstood health conditions.

The team in our Institute for Medical Humanities (IMH) has just been awarded £1million from the Wellcome Trust to further expand their research into topics such as trauma, post-natal depression, addiction, deafness, menopause, and anxiety.

Investigating the invisible

The funding will expand current research into conditions that can be ‘hidden’, perhaps because the condition is stigmatised by society, difficult to measure or displays no visible symptoms.

The team will work closely with people who experience these health conditions as well as with healthcare professionals and others to understand the challenges faced in day-to-day life.

With a mission to change research approaches, improve public and clinical understanding, address shame and stigma, and develop new approaches to managing health, the team ultimately wants to make a difference to people who are often not represented in policy decisions, funding, and research initiatives.

Making a difference

Our IMH researchers are already working on projects that are helping people with health conditions that don’t always have obvious symptoms or can be hard to explain to others.

Hearing the Voice, which has recently been shortlisted for the 2020 Medical Humanities Best Research Award, works with voice-hearers, their friends and family, the NHS, mental health charities and academic researchers to understand voice hearing and to improve clinical care. 

The Life of Breath project also worked with clinicians, researchers, artists and support groups to develop more effective approaches to and treatments for chronic breathlessness. In 2018 Life of Breath won the Medical Humanities Inspiration award.

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