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Disrupted breath, songlines of breathlessness: an interdisciplinary response

Malpass, Alice; Dodd, James; Feder, Gene; Macnaughton, Jane; Rose, Arthur; Walker, Oriana; Williams, Tina; Carel, Havi

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Alice Malpass

James Dodd

Gene Feder

Arthur Rose

Oriana Walker

Tina Williams

Havi Carel


Health research is often bounded by disciplinary expertise. While cross-disciplinary collaborations are often forged, the analysis of data which draws on more than one discipline at the same time is underexplored. Life of Breath, a 5-year project funded by the Wellcome Trust to understand the clinical, historical and cultural phenomenology of the breath and breathlessness, brings together an interdisciplinary team, including medical humanities scholars, respiratory clinicians, medical anthropologists, medical historians, cultural theorists, artists and philosophers. While individual members of the Life of Breath team come together to share ongoing work, collaborate and learn from each other’s approach, we also had the ambition to explore the feasibility of integrating our approaches in a shared response to the same piece of textual data. In this article, we present our pluralistic, interdisciplinary analysis of an excerpt from a single cognitive interview transcript with a patient with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. We discuss the variation in the responses and interpretations of the data, why research into breathlessness may particularly benefit from an interdisciplinary approach, and the wider implications of the findings for interdisciplinary research within health and medicine.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 10, 2019
Online Publication Date Aug 22, 2019
Publication Date Sep 30, 2019
Deposit Date Aug 15, 2019
Publicly Available Date Aug 15, 2019
Journal Medical humanities.
Print ISSN 1468-215X
Electronic ISSN 1473-4265
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 45
Issue 3
Pages 294-303
Public URL


Published Journal Article (1.5 Mb)

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Copyright Statement
This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See:

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