Social Research in Health and Illness offers a theoretically informed guide to practising the key social research methods in investigating health and illness. Examining both methods and methodology, the authors explore the importance of selecting the appropriate research method for the project in question, demonstrating that researchers do not simply apply a set of neutral techniques to the issues that they investigate, but take part in a dynamic, reflective engagement with social and cultural worlds in a process of continual learning.

With its application of a variety of research methods to concrete cases, this book provides a sociology of specific health conditions, thus rendering them more understandable, whilst clarifying the nature of research concepts, approaches, methods and methodologies by demonstrating their use in real-life settings. Drawing on case studies involving a range of health conditions, including mental illness, HIV, diabetes, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, breast cancer, thalassaemia and multiple sclerosis, the authors examine a range of methodological issues, exploring the use of focus groups, observation, data archives, interviews and surveys, while also considering questions of ethics and analysis.

A comprehensive and practical examination of research methods in use in a defined field of social scientific enquiry, this volume is essential reading for scholars, graduate students and healthcare professionals with interests in conducting qualitative and quantitative research in the fields of health and medicine.

chapter |7 pages


chapter |12 pages

Literature review

Experiencing chronic illness

chapter |16 pages

Social survey

Diabetes type I and type II

chapter |13 pages

Qualitative interviews


chapter |13 pages

Focus groups

Multiple sclerosis

chapter |13 pages



chapter |13 pages

Longitudinal study

Heart disease

chapter |17 pages

Using the Internet


chapter |15 pages

Secondary data research

Mental illness

chapter |15 pages

Combining quantitative and qualitative research methods

Alzheimer’s disease

chapter |12 pages

Ethics in research

Breast cancer