Felicity Thomas is a Research Fellow on the Cultural Contexts of Health, and a Senior Research Fellow in the Medical School at the University of Exeter. Felicity’s work has focused on the health and well-being of low-income communities, migrants and families with complex needs; sexual health and HIV; environment-related health inequities; and the promotion of healthy schools.
About: After working for several years in the international development sector, I pursued doctoral research on the impacts of HIV and AIDS on rural livelihoods and social support networks in southern Africa. More recently, my work has focused on understanding and addressing the social and cultural factors that perpetuate health inequalities. Drawing primarily on narrative, ethnographic and participatory approaches, my research examines the ways that people experience health and illness and make decisions over treatment use. I am particularly interested in understanding how certain health ‘conditions’ become medicalised, and the ways that this inter-relates with poverty, disadvantage and health-related inequalities. My current ESRC-funded project (DE-STRESS) is concerned with understanding how moral narratives relating to responsibility and welfare reform influence the medicalisation of distress and the uptake of antidepressants in low-income communities in the UK. I am co-director (with Professor Mark Jackson) of the WHO Collaborating Centre on Culture and Health and work closely with the WHO Regional Office for Europe project on the Cultural Contexts of Health (http://euro.who.int/en/data-and-evidence/cultural-contexs-of-health).