Our research covers a wide spectrum of people’s experiences across the life course, including physical and learning disability and living with a long term condition. Key strands include world-class research in social history of learning disability; theory; policy and practice in disability; advocacy for people with learning disabilities; disability and end-of-life issues and disability and diabetes. Research in the field of long term conditions includes the experience of co-morbidity (physical and mental health), motherhood, and issues around screening, diversity and gender. Projects in this area have also focused upon the development of inclusive research methodologies and life story work. Collaboration with colleagues in other universities, with service user and provider organisations, and with disabled people in the UK and internationally, is a central component of research in this area.
Research activity under this theme includes the internationally-renowned Social History of Learning Disabilities Research Group, core membership of which is based at The Open University, but which includes people with learning disabilities and academics from other universities in the UK and in Europe, North America, Japan and Australia.
A further strand of research involves membership of the organisation: The Dialogue on Diabetes and Depression which includes a number of international initiatives investigating the relationship between these two long term conditions and developing interventions for the care of individuals experiencing them.
Current and recently completed research projects
In 2007 we hosted an ESRC seminar series Service User Agendas in Research: Emancipatory and Inclusive Paradigms, in which university researchers and learning disabled researchers came together to debate and progress inclusive research paradigms.
We have also conducted research on children and disability in the international context through our work on the UNICEF Innocenti Research Project.
Our current research in long-term conditions includes two studies funded by Diabetes UK:
Fear of hypoglycaemia in children with diabetes, and Identifying psychological problems in South Asians with diabetes.
In 2009 The Open University hosted an international meeting on Living with Long-term Conditions, and in July 2010 the Open University hosted a workshop entitled Living with long-term conditions: measuring psychological well-being in minority ethnic groups with diabetes. The proceedings of this workshop were published in the journal Diversity in Health and Care, and online on the websites of Diabetes UK and the South Asian Health Foundation.
Potential research projects
We’re actively looking for more postgraduate students to join us. For further information on potential research projects, supervisors and applying to study please see our Living with disability and long term conditions page within the Open University Research Degrees Prospectus.