Identity and Health Research

TitleIdentity and Health Research
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsCarvalho, T, Correia, T
EditorSaks, M, Allsop, J
Book TitleResearching Health: Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Methods
ChapterIdentity and Health Research

In this chapter, we analyze and discuss the concept of identity and its use in health research. Identity is a relevant concept in social sciences being scrutinized in different fields of study, as in psychology, sociology and anthropology, among others. Identity is based on the idea that the notion of the ‘self’ is linked to identification with certain social groups. A sense of identity or of belonging may be associated with social class, ethnicity, age, gender or other communities. In health research, the concept of identity has been used to collect data and make comparisons. This raises an issue of how identity ascribed by researchers. We start by identifying the approaches taken in the literature on identity studies and their relationship to different research methods. It is suggested that these approaches may be analyzed on three distinct levels – namely, macro (using gender as an illustration); meso (as exemplified by professional identity) and micro (based on the interaction between health professionals and patients). The strengths and weaknesses of different theoretical perspectives and research methods in researching identity in health in the three levels are identified. Finally, an empirical study of the impact on nurses’ sense of identity with managerialism as represented by the New Public Management is presented in an illustrative case study, where qualitative methods were used for data collection.