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Ruth Parry

Principal Research Fellow, NIHR Research Fellow, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences

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Biography

I qualified as a physiotherapist in 1986 and worked in the NHS for several years,specialising in healthcare of older people and neurological rehabilitition. I then moved into research work, initially on a randomised controlled trial of a rehabilitation intervention. I moved into social science based healthcare research, specialising in video-based observational research investigating healthcare communication. In terms of healthcare communication, my particular research interests are in

  • communication about sensitive topics including death and disability
  • explaining reasons for treatment
  • decision-making
  • patient and carer participation in healthcare conversations
  • communication with and about the body.

My work spans underpinning research on the 'anatomy and physiology' of verbal and nonverbal communication, and applied research translating basic research on communication into communication training interventions.

Expertise Summary

Video-based conversation analysis

Systematic reviewing, particularly of conversation analytic and discursive research evidence

Communication skills and communication skills training in healthcare

Teaching Summary

Communication skills, particularly using recordings of real life practice

Conversation analysis

Qualitative research methods, data collection and analysis - I have experience in teaching the perspectives and methods of qualitative research to those who have a strong grounding in quantitative methods. Until recently I taught a module on qualitative research methods and analysis on Nottingham's Masters of Public Health Programme

Clinical reasoning - from the patient-professional communication perspective

Research Summary

My current research concerns healthcare communication, particularly in relation to end of life care, decision-making, addressing sensitive topics, bodily communication, and observable skills that… read more

Selected Publications

Current Research

My current research concerns healthcare communication, particularly in relation to end of life care, decision-making, addressing sensitive topics, bodily communication, and observable skills that correlate with relatively nebulous concepts including dignity and empathy. I conduct studies that incorporate both basic scientific description and understanding of the 'anatomy and physiology' of communication practices, and applied elements translating these basic findings into interventions designed to influence and improve communication practice. I work with video-recordings of real life practice involving doctors, and physiotherapists. I anticipate adding in work investigating nurses' practice in the near future. I am beginning an NIHR funded fellowship programme in which I will also work towards evaluating effects of communication training interventions upon patients' and professionals' communication.

Current funded projects include:

Principal Investigator: Systematic review of observational research (funded by a Small Grant from School of Nursing, Midwifery, and Physiotherapy, University of Nottingham): A systematic review of communication practices used in healthcare decision-making, focused on whether and how practices encourage participation by patients and others

Principal investigator: Video-based conversation analysis study funded by the Health Foundation: VERDIS: video-based communication research and training in decision-making and empathy in supportive and palliative care

Co-investigator: Qualitative investigation funded by the National Institute for Health Research: Service and Delivery Programme: The initiation of advance care planning in community care settings and outcomes for End of Life Care

Most of my work entails making and analysing recordings of consultations, meetings and episodes of care. I use a social science research approach called conversation analysis. I also research the effectiveness and provision of communication skills training for healthcare practitioners and trainees.

I am particularly interested in:

  • how people approach, discuss and explain complicated, delicate and distressing matters during healthcare consultations, treatments and meetings
  • how patients and carers are encouraged to contribute during consultations and meetings
  • communication about and with the body in the course of healthcare
  • systematic review and synthesis of evidence from conversation analytic and discursive psychology research
  • how conversation analysis can be used to understand, and inform policy and training on broad-brush concerns including dignity, empathy and compassion

I also worked recently on a rapid evidence review in relation to integrated care pathways for people who are in their last days of life.

Current and past PhD students have focused on goal-setting during physiotherapy, communication in relation to doctors' treatment of obesity, and empathy in healthcare as an interactional phenomenon rather than a psychological property. I am keen to supervise PhD students whose plans involve applying conversation analysis, and those interested in healthcare communication - particularly where they see the merit of working with observational rather than solely interview data.

Past Research

My early research career entailed work on a randomised controlled trial of a rehabilitation intervention for the arm and hand after stroke. My masters dissertation involved a small scale phenomenological qualitative interview study of stroke patients' and physiotherapists' perceptions of upper limb recovery and treatment after stroke. My PhD and postdoc studies included video-based conversation analytic studies that examined various aspects of communication between physiotherapists and stroke patients.

Principal Investigator: Systematic review of observational research (funded by a Small Grant from School of Nursing, Midwifery, and Physiotherapy, University of Nottingham): Communicating with patients about future illness, loss of capacity and end of life: a synthesis of evidence from conversation analysis and discourse analysis studies

Co-investigator: Programme planning grant using video-based research to better understand and teach dignity in healthcare funded by the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare: Dignity in social interaction: A pilot study of encounters between older people and professionals in the care sector

School of Health Sciences

B Floor, South Block Link
Queen's Medical Centre
Nottingham, NG7 2HA

telephone: +44 (0)115 823 0850
email: shs-enquiries@nottingham.ac.uk