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Megan Wainwright

Honorary Fellow

Honorary Fellow in the Department of Anthropology


I completed my PhD in Medical Anthropology at Durham University in 2013 and subsequently became an Honorary Fellow in the department. Since the PhD I have completed postdoctoral work and fellowships in the Centre for Medical Humanities at Durham University and the Division of Social and Behavioural Sciences, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town (2014-2018). At Durham I have been involved in global health diplomacy research with Dr Andrew Russell and was an international collaborator on the Life of Breath project in the Centre for Medical Humanities for which I have made regular visits to Durham.

My main areas of ethnographic research have been on the topic of chronic illness and the intersection of public health and medical anthropology. The research I carried-out while an NRF postdoctoral fellow at the University of Cape Town was entitled “Using, providing and producing home oxygen therapy: A comparative ethnographic study”. The research involved fieldwork in Cape Town and Montevideo on the day to day practices and experiences surrounding the use of medicinal oxygen across public and private healthcare. In addition to investigating policy in practice, I am focused on how oxygen is conceptualized and experienced by health workers and patients. This work builds upon my PhD thesis on living-with and caring for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Uruguay (examined by Prof. Mark Nichter and Prof. Bob Simpson). I also have a special interest in experiential learning and field schools. I was a travelling lecturer on the SIT's study abroad program (IHP - Health and Community: Globalization, Culture and Care) in 2013 and was a community health research methods field school mentor in Cape Town between 2014 and 2016. As part of a separate pedogogy postdoctoral fellowship at UCT I also conducted research on the field school itself.

In 2018 I relocated to rural Portugal where I work as a freelance consultant. I work remotely on a variety of projects outside and inside of Portugal as a qualitative research specialist. As a consultant, my role is to support projects to optimize their research designs, use of creative methdodologies, and qualitative analysis. I am actively involved in methodological development in the area of qualitative evidence syntheses/systematic reviews and am a member of the GRADE-CERQual coodrinating team. I also provide training for NVivo software for qualitative data management and analysis. Since 2018 I have been working on an implementation research project based in Canada led by Dr. Myra Piat on the topic of implementing mental health recovery guidelines into services. I also still enjoy a bit of teaching! In 2020 I taught a 10-week online course in Searching for and Systematizing the Use of Qualitative Evidence for health technology assessment professionals in the Brazilian Ministry of Public Health.


Research interests

  • Applied anthropology
  • Implementation Science
  • Transdisciplinary approaches
  • Chronic disease
  • Encounters in healthcare
  • Ethical Dilemmas and the Political Economy of Health
  • Ethnography and qualitative methods
  • Experiential pedagogy
  • Medical anthropology
  • Public health
  • Qualitative Evidence Synthesis
  • Sensorial Anthropology
  • Socio-cultural anthropology

Esteem Indicators

  • 2015: National Research Foundation (NRF, South Africa) Innovation Postdoctoral Fellowship:
  • 2012: Postgraduate Excellence Award:
  • 2010: Dryburn Research Prize: Awarded by a panel of three judges from the University Hospital of North Durham for the research entitled: An Ethnographic Investigation of Chronic Constipation Patients Experience of Illness and Healthcare Relationships
  • 2009: Van Mildert College Trust Research Scholarship:
  • 2009: Arthur Maurice Hocast Prize: This annual prize, administered by the Royal Anthropological Institute, is awarded to the best postgraduate essay on an anthropological topic from across Great Britain and Ireland. Essay title: Taking Constipation Seriously: An Ethnographic Study of the Patient's Perspective on Illness Experience and Interactions in Healthcare.
  • 2008: Durham Academic Scholarship:


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