Incorporating photographic data in health psychology research: the LGBT persons living with MS study




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Peer reviewed


This study explores the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans (LGBT) individuals living with the chronic condition of multiple sclerosis (MS) whose effects are both specific and profound. Long-term conditions have been under-explored in LGBT communities outside of the context of HIV, especially via a multi-methodological qualitative approach. The research employs an innovative integrative conceptual framework, in order to investigate this topic. It is posited within a critical health psychology epistemological paradigm, theoretically informed by phenomenological psychology and visual ethnography. The integrated data have been collected via interviews and participant-authored photographs which have been analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Twenty-eight participants, including participants from several European countries, have taken part. The analysis of the data has produced several themes. For the purposes of this paper we specifically discuss the theme of ‘Living with MS: Visual and verbal accounts of adjusting to disability and ableism in the LGBT communities’. MS is a transformative condition which alters the core self of individuals and fundamentally alters their perceived, and felt relations with other members of the LGBT communities. Their life is infused by heteronormativity assumptions, and influenced by heterosexist and ableist experiences, creating a new lifeworld. We discuss insights from the study, applications for intervention and aware-raising and consider additional opportunities for applied and impactful opportunities which the participant-authored photos have provide us with. We illustrate this with our reflections on a recent dissemination and engagement event which took the form of a public photographic exhibition.




Papaloukas, P., Fish, J., and Williamson, I., R. (2017) Incorporating photographic data in health psychology research: the LGBT persons living with MS study. Innovations in Health Psychology: European Health Psychology Society, Padova, Italy, August 2017.


Research Institute