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Health, wellbeing and social care

Our research projects are listed by area below (click the heading links for further information about research in each area):

Ageing and later life
Children, young people and families
Death, dying and bereavement
Living with disability and long term conditions
Reproduction, sexualities and health

Ageing and later life

Recycling bins

Transitions in Kitchen Living

The role, function and design of kitchens within the lives of people aged over 60.

Recent and archive projects:

  • The last refuge revisited - in which our award winning researchers Julia Johnson and Sheena Rolph found residential care homes for the elderly that are run by the voluntary sector offer a better overall standard of care than public or privately run homes. They also found that voluntary sector homes had the most stable histories. Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the project engaged a team of volunteer researchers - nearly all aged over 60, and some aged 80 or more - to help trace what had happened to 173 homes originally studied by Peter Townsend in his 1962 seminal study The Last Refuge. The resulting book Residential Care Transformed: Revisiting 'The Last Refuge' was awarded the 2011 inaugural Peter Townsend Memorial Prize. 
  • OPT-IN – older people’s use of new technologies
  • RoAD - Research on Age Discrimination (pdf)
  • Exploring the needs and aspirations of visually impaired older peopleThomas Pocklington Trust (pdf)

Children, young people and families

Recent and archive projects:

  • Young men, masculinity and wellbeing (pdf) - Project report from a research project on young men, masculinity and wellbeing, in partnership with Promundo, a global organisation that promotes gender equality by engaging men and boys in partnership with women and girls, and funded by Axe/Unilever.
  • Beyond male role models - responding to increasing anxiety about the welfare of boys and young men – reflected in concerns about educational underachievement, poor mental health, and involvement in offending and anti-social behaviour.

Death, dying and bereavement

Recent and archive projects:

Living with disability and long term conditions

Recent and archive projects:

Reproduction, sexualities and health

Young Asian woman with baby

Pre-conception care for women with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes: what are the facilitators and barriers to uptake?

Rates of diabetes in pregnancy are increasing rapidly; a trend that looks likely to continue. Diabetes can lead to serious complications for women and babies during pregnancy and birth. Pre-conception care is known to have a positive impact on these health risks; however, the uptake can be low and it is not clear how improve this. Why do some women not access pre-conception services? Understanding that women do not always ‘plan’ a pregnancy will be part of the solution.

A mixed method investigation into the acceptability of intrauterine contraception, from the perspectives of women, GPs and Practice Nurses (findings pdf)

The overall aim of the study is to understand and investigate the acceptability, or otherwise, of intrauterine contraception (the intrauterine system ‘IUS’ and the intrauterine device ‘IUD’) amongst women across the age range 18-49. It will also explore any barriers that can be identified by two groups of professionals: general practitioners, and practice nurses. The study is funded by Bayer PLC, and is being undertaken by The Open University in collaboration with Anglia Ruskin University.

‘I didn’t think it would happen to me’: a mixed method study of unwanted pregnancy and abortion among young women in England and Wales

The study aims to explore the behavioural, social and service related factors that are associated with unintended and unwanted pregnancy amongst young women (under 25 years). The study uses a multi-stranded approach to investigate different aspects of young women’s experiences of one or more unintended pregnancies and abortion. Component 1 is an audit of UK abortion service provider Marie Stopes International (MSI) data over the past 5 years for clients aged 16-24 years. Component 2 involves a cross-sectional survey among MSI clients aged 16-24 years who have had an abortion for the first time, or a subsequent abortion. Component 3 is a longitudinal investigation using in-depth qualitative interviews with 40 to 60 young women who have had one or more abortions. Funded by, and being undertaken in collaboration with, Marie Stopes International.
Abortion, contraceptive uptake and use among young women: a quantitative survey (pdf)
Young women's experiences of unintended pregnancies: A qualitative study (pdf)
Young women’s experiences of unintended pregnancy and abortion: Key findings (pdf)

Contraception and Menstruation: Social and cultural influences on young women’s decision making

Hormonal contraceptives (the Pill, contraceptive implant, Depo-Provera injection, and Mirena coil) can cause side-effects; the most common being changes to uterine bleeding patterns. This study aims to provide in-depth insight into the specific factors associated with bleeding, by examining young women’s informal learning and vernacular knowledge about menstruation and contraception, and analysing the impact this has on their contraceptive decision making. The study is funded by the British Academy. This research is funded by the NIHR’s HTA programme and is being conducted by The Open University in collaboration with Birmingham Heartlands Hospital and University of Birmingham.

Recent and archive projects:

  • Contraception survey
  • ESRC Seminar Series: Understanding the young sexual body
  • Ante-natal screening (Carol Komaromy)
  • Disability and facilitated sex (Sarah Earle)
  • Health literacy and framing of health messages in the gay community (MacKian and colleagues, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council)
  • IES Platform: scoping and feasibility - Preparation for an RCT on post-partum weight loss (Rose Barbour and colleagues, funded by the MRC)
  • Perceptions of future fertility among young people with cancer and their professional carers (Rose Barbour and colleagues, funded by the ESRC)
  • Positive outcomes and teenage pregnancy (Rachel Thomson and colleagues, funded by Brook)
  • Post-natal depression: evaluating an intervention (Sarah Earle, funded by Northampton PCT)
  • Reasons for sub-optimal uptake of folic acid during pregnancy (Rose Barbour and colleagues, funded by the Jennifer Brown Trust)
  • Sex in Cyberspace (Sarah Earle and colleagues). The results of this innovative study can be found in Sex in Cyberspace: men who pay for sex published by Ashgate.
  • Sexual health services provision (Sarah Earle, funded by the Vale of Aylesbury, Chiltern & South Buckinghamshire and Wycombe Primary Care Trusts)