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2004 Conference Archive
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Narrative analysis as a methodology for disability research: Experiences of pregnancy

Jackie Topp, School of Health & Social Welfare, The Open University

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This paper aims to show how narrative analysis can be an emancipatory method of qualitative research in disability studies. Using Mishler's (1995) typology of narrative function this study explores the cultural, social and institutional background of each woman through a co-constructed conversation in an environment that is safe and familiar for each participant. The researcher guides the narratives to allow the participant to express her subjective interpretations of the events and relationships connected with her pregnancy, including the ante- and post- natal periods.

The study seeks to interpret three main themes: 1.How each woman relates to 'disability', 2.How the perceived attitudes from family, friends, and health care and social care professionals affected each woman's experience of pregnancy, 3.What services and information are being made available for disabled pregnant women and new mothers, and who are providing these.

The narratives produced in this study are interpreted from a social model perspective that considers impairment effects as well as factors of social oppression. The implicit or explicit understanding of both impairment and disability by each participant, in conjunction with her personal and social background, is used to interpret how and why a woman may have experienced her pregnancy and maternity care the way she did. The narratives will also be explored in conjunction with the DDA in relation to access to information and service provision as all participants had been pregnant in 1999 or later.

The study focuses on one county in order for the findings to be disseminated to the local Primary Care Trusts and Social Care and Health directorate, who are keen to identify areas of maternity and post- natal services that either need improvement or are evidence of good practice.

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