My background is in health psychology and I currently work as an Associate Professor in the School of Health Sciences. I am interested in the psycho social issues related to rehabilitation and I have had a particular interest in the area of prosthetics and orthotics since completing my MSc back in 1999. My role in this project is to ensure that the user’s needs are integrated into the development of any new prosthetic componentry. When we are referring to the user, we do not just mean the person with limb loss, but the wider group of stakeholders that are involved such as family members, cares, healthcare professionals, funders and anyone who will be involved in supplying and the access to the new device.
As this is a global challenges research project and we are hoping to develop a new upper limb prosthesis for the use in Jordan and Uganda, it is essential to ensure that we understand any specific cultural and social issues. The importance of this is echoed nicely in this quote from the ‘Arts & Humanities Research Council’ (AHRC, 2016) that states “Many technologies and scientific interventions continue to fail for a lack of understanding of their social, cultural and historical context and their likely reception by the people and societies they are intended to benefit”.
So, how do we ensure that the user’s perspective is integrated into our project? The answer is quite simple, we talk to people! Yes, it is as simple as that. Within this project, we are using a range of flexible qualitative research methods to find out people’s experience of living with upper limb loss and their prosthetic requirements in both Uganda and Jordan. This began with a number of preliminary scoping and exploratory visits to Uganda and Jordan where we visited hospitals, Non-Government Organisations, private clinics, manufacturers etc. During these visits, we carried out a number of informal scoping interviews with people with upper limb loss, clinicians and technical staff and paired this data with observational data, field notes and other informal discussions.
This initial Scoping work was fundamental in influencing the wider remit of the study, identifying the training needs of the members of the research team and highlighting synergies and differences in the specific countries requirements. The next stage of the project for my work package has involved carrying out a more formal set of interviews and therefore this initial work has been invaluable in developing the semi-structured interview schedule. Due to culture and language issues, members of the team who are based in Uganda and Jordan are carrying out these interviews and Jordan are carrying out this work. As these team members are new to qualitative research, we have been working in partnership together to develop appropriate training materials to support the completion of this work. A recent visit to Kampala in Uganda involved opening up the training session to MSc and PhD students at Aga Khan and was a fantastic day and enabled us to learn a lot from each other. We were then able to meet as a smaller research team and use our learning to concentrate on our specific study.
We are now in the process of completing the interviews and will keep you posted as we start to get the results.