Bio

Why are some evidence-based interventions stigmatized or rarely adopted? What new objects and categories do biomedical technologies create? Should we incorporate patient perspectives into clinical practice guidelines?

These are some of the ethical and epistemic questions that have sparked my curiosity and driven my research.

As a medical anthropologist and bioethics researcher, I am interested in the potential of biomedical technologies to radically transform bodies and lives. To an anthropologist, technologies can include surgical interventions and devices (e.g. implants), mobile communication tools (e.g. apps), pharmaceutical products (e.g. medications), and authoritative evidence that disciplines bodies and populations (e.g. guidelines and policies). Technologies can disrupt social norms and relationships, and they can foster new ones.

How do technologies create new biological objects, new categories of patients or diagnoses, or new tools? Why do we embrace some technologies, regulate and commercialize them, and reject others? Which technologies are threatening and to whom? Whose values are embedded in technologies, and whose interests are marginalized by them?  And when do institutions and social actors become obligated to use certain biomedical technologies?

A second area of interest in how national setting shapes the implementation of evidence-based interventions, such as opioid harm reduction tools. North America is undergoing an opioid crisis. Accidental overdose with fentanyl is the leading cause of opioid-related mortality in both nations, although at higher rates in Canada. What harm reduction approaches are the two nations taking to mitigate fentanyl overdose and what can they learn from each other?  When does stigma trump evidence?

Areas of Research

Opioids

  • Harm reduction practices
  • Youth-centered treatment

Adolescent bariatric surgery

  • Pediatrician knowledge and barriers to referral
  • Experiences of adolescents and young adults (AYA)

Physician practice and ethical dilemmas

  • Barriers to delivering cancer care to inmates
  • Physician remuneration for substance use disorder care

Social theory

  • Medicalization
  • Domestication of biomedical technologies

Methods

  • Qualitative design: interviews, focus groups, observation, ethnography, community-engagement
  • Sequential mixed-methods design: survey + interviews
  • Reviews: systematic, integrative, scoping, narrative
  • Comparative (US and Canada)

Geographic scope

  • United States
  • Canada