Qualitative Health Research Network


Report from our 2018 Critical workshop

Report title: 'Taking the Pulse of Qualitative Health Research in a Changing World: Crafting a Critical Approach to Social Change and Health in the 21st Century'

Report from Critical Workshop (2018)

This report results from our Critical Workshop (2018) 'Responding to Change: Perspectives from Qualitative Health Research'.

The report from the workshop held on 25th June 2018 can be downloaded here:


The critical workshop was hosted by the UCL Qualitative Health Research Network

Authors of the report

Sébastien Libert, Henry Llewellyn, Kirsten Moore, Nuriye Kupeli, Georgia Black, Nehla Djellouli, Lesley McGregor, Claire Stevens, Cecilia Vindrola


Studying change—social, technical, environmental—within contemporary society has provoked novel challenges and reinforced previously encountered challenges within qualitative health research. To address these challenges and advance the qualitative study of change in healthcare settings, the University College London Qualitative Health Research Network (UCL QHRN) hosted a workshop—Responding to Change: Perspectives from Qualitative Health Research—in London in June 2018.

Twenty-three scholars from various academic disciplines (including anthropology, sociology, science and technology studies, psychology, and medicine), countries (including the UK, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong), and levels of experience (from PhD students to Professors, and people with direct experience of illness and care) participated in the workshop, having submitted abstracts to an open call for papers. Prior to the workshop, selected participants submitted short written papers for dissemination among those attending. On the day, participants gave a four-minute summary of their contributions, which supported subsequent group discussions. With participants’ permission, we took detailed field notes to record the content and tenor of the overall discussion, provocations and responses.

This report summarises these contributions and discussions under three main themes: Tensions and opportunities in evaluating and creating change; Methodological reflections on studying and responding to change; Theorising change and its processes. While presenting a synthetic account of contributions we do not wish to impose false consensus among contributors. We therefore refrain from offering recommendations or guidelines, instead outlining points of consideration to stimulate others in the qualitative study of change in health, illness and care. Qualitative approaches are extremely capable of producing the rich and nuanced accounts that are much needed to help patients, health and social care practitioners, policymakers, and society at large, anticipate and navigate the social consequences of change as it unfolds continuously throughout multiple arenas.

Key words: qualitative health research; social change; critical approach; interdisciplinary


We are indebted to all workshop contributors for their fantastically thoughtful papers and for their presence and provocations during the workshop. While we set the initial task and terms of the day, they provided its ample richness and spirit.

We are also extremely grateful to Professor Catherine Pope for her insightful and inspiring keynote lecture, which did much to stimulate discussion in a manner both intellectually dynamic and supportive.

Finally, we greatly thank the Wellcome Trust for their generous support of the workshop and the broader work of UCL QHRN.