The Israeli Centre for Qualitative Research of People and Societies (ICQM) has recently established BGU-DIPEx Israel, an innovative project seeking to incorporate the experiences of patients into the professional and public discourse about a range of illnesses.
The project is a cooperation of the ICQM at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the Health Experiences Group at the University of Oxford. Similar to other research projects taken by ICQM, it has contributions both for research and for the community in Israel.
Its starting point is the interviewing of people from various ethnic groups in Israel, who are affected by particular ill health conditions in order to learn about their own experiences. The interviews and their analysis are undertaken using the rigorous qualitative and participative research method developed at the University of Oxford and implemented in international network of similar centres around the world. The analysis of the stories, together with audio and video clips from the interviews will be presented in a new website, functioning both in Hebrew and Arabic, in order to make the data accessible for patients with similar conditions, their families and supporters, medical professionals and ultimately the community at large.
The original project started by Prof. Ann McPherson of Oxford University - who realised while becoming a patient herself - that she had access to medical knowledge but not to patients' knowledge. This appreciation that the experiences of the unwell often remain unacknowledged was the prompt for the consideration of a suitably inclusively qualitative research methodology, a means of both empowering the patients and helping the medical profession evolve in its engagement with patients. The Health Experiences Research Group at the University of Oxford has created a unique database of personal and patient experiences through in-depth qualitative research into over 50 different illnesses and health conditions. The results are published on two websites; healthtalkonline and youthhealthtalk, which receive about 2 million visits a month and have won several awards. Currently, there are a growing number of countries developing their own versions of Healthtalkonline using the same research methodology and grouped together under Dipex international; including: Australia, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Republic of Korea and Spain. BGU-Dipex Israel is supported by BGU President Prof. Rivka Carmi and Lord Andrew Stone. Speaking at the House of Lords on February 11, Lord Stone noted that, "The University of Oxford is working with Ben- Gurion University to make patient experience of illness available online for free in Arabic, Hebrew and English to all communities in the region. By sharing experience of their conditions across all divides, it helps them to live better lives and increases understanding and empathy."
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