Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods
Sefydliad Ymchwil Gymdeithasol ac Economaidd, Data a Dulliau Cymru

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Dr Alexandra Hillman

Alex Hillman.jpgJob Title:  Research Associate               

Institution: WISERD, School of Social Sciences


Telephone: 02920 879602

Role: Research Associate


I have been working as a researcher in the school of social sciences since beginning my doctorate in 2003. I am a qualitative sociologist with an ethnographic approach to undertaking research. I have worked on a number of collaborative projects that have spanned both the school of social sciences and the medical school. These have included an ethnography of emergency medicine, engaging with experts on the uses of remote monitoring technology for people with chronic illness and a UK wide study exploring issue of dignity and dignified care for older people on acute hospital wards. More recently I have lead my own Wellcome trust funded fellowship project, bringing an ethnographic approach to issues of ethics and clinical practice in the diagnosis of dementias.  My teaching reflects my research interests which has meant that I teach both undergraduates and postgraduates on topics such as: medical sociology, qualitative research methods, ethnography in healthcare and older people, medicine and care.

Research Interests

My research is in medical sociology with a particular interest in the treatment and care of older people. A recurring theme of all my research is the relationship between medicine and the organisation of health services and how this relationships shapes everyday routines and practices of care. My doctoral research explored categories of prioritisation in a hospital emergency department (ED) and showed how institutional logics of care constituted older people as particularly problematic to the purposes of emergency medicine. In my previous project- funded as part of a Wellcome trust Society and Ethics Postdoctoral Fellowship award- the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, dementia and cognitive impairment are explored to highlight the implications of diagnoses for the (re)making of the boundaries between normal ageing, cognitive decline and degenerative disease. I am also interested in the social and ethical implications of a new and growing group of older people labelled with a ‘pre-condition’. Alongside the science and the medicine of ageing, all my work pays attention to people's experiences of getting older, both of health and of illness, and the ways in which these experiences are shaped by the organisations and services that deliver healthcare.

Current Research

I am currently working on the ESRC funded study entitled: ‘Improving the experience of dementia and enhancing active life: living well with dementia’ The IDEAL study.  The longitudinal, mixed-method project studies the various factors that enable people to live well with dementia. My contribution to the study is to undertake qualitative research with people with dementia and their relatives/carers, to gather detailed information about the lived experience of people with dementia and their families, what it means to live well with dementia and what factors are identified as impacting upon their ability to live well.


Blogs and media

Jan 2014: Radio interview with 'Thinking Allowed' on Radio 4 about waiting in A&E





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