Pharmacy World & Science

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 353–360 | Cite as

Narratives about illness and medication: a neglected theme/new methodology within pharmacy practice research. Part II: medication narratives in practice

Original Paper



Part 2 of this paper aims to provide a methodological framework for the study of medication narratives, including a semi-structured interview guide and suggested method of analysis, in an attempt to aid the development of narrative scholarship within pharmacy practice research. Examples of medication narratives are provided to illustrate their diversity and usefulness.


The framework is derived from the work of other researchers and adapted for our specific purpose. It comes from social psychology, narrative psychology, narrative anthropology, sociology and critical theory and fits within the social constructionist paradigm. The suggested methods of analysis could broadly be described as narrative analysis and discourse analysis. Examples of medication narratives are chosen from a variety of sources and brief interpretations are presented by way of illustration.


Narrative analysis, a neglected area of research in pharmacy practice, has the potential to provide new understanding about how people relate to their medicines, how pharmacists are engaged in producing narratives and the importance of narrative in the education of students.

Impact of the article

This article aims to have the following impact on pharmacy practice research:
  • Innovative approach to researching and conceptualising the use of medicines

  • Introduction of a new theoretical perspective and methodology

  • Incorporation of social science research methods into pharmacy practice research

  • Development of narrative scholarship within pharmacy


Illness narratives Medication narratives Narrative analysis Pharmacy practice research 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Kleinman A. The illness narratives: suffering, healing and the human condition. New York: Basic Books; 1988. ISBN 0465032044.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Frank AW. The wounded story teller, Body, illness and ethics. Chicago: Chicago University Press; 1995. ISBN 0226259935.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Gergen K. The saturated self: dilemmas of identity in contemporary life. New York: Basic Books; 1991. ISBN 0465071856.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Giddens A. Modernity and self identity: self and society in the late modern age. Cambridge: Polity Press; 1991. ISBN 0745608892.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Yardley L. Material discourses of health and illness. London: Routledge; 1997. ISBN 041513823X.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Crossley ML. Introducing narrative psychology: self, trauma and the construction of meaning. Buckingham: Open University Press; 2000. ISBN 033520290X.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Mattingly C, Garro LC. Narrative as construct and construction, in narrative and the cultural construction of illness and healing. In: Mattingly C, Garro LC, editors. University of California: Berkeley; 2000, p. 1–49.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Potter J, Wetherell M. Discourse and social psychology: beyond attitudes and behaviour. London: Sage; 1987. ISBN 0803980558.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Lupton D. Discourse analysis: a new methodology for understanding ideologies of health and illness. Aust J Public Health 1992;16:145–50.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Wetherell M, Potter J. Mapping the language of racism: discourse and the legitimation of exploitation. New York: Columbia University Press; 1992. ISBN 0231082614.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Edwards D, Potter J. Discursive psychology. London: Sage; 1992. ISBN 0803984421.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Petersen A, Bunton R, editors. Foucault, health and medicine. London & New York: Routledge; 1997. ISBN 0415151775.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Grace V, Arnoux L. Lexicology as a method of discourse analysis. Unpublished paper, Department of Feminist Studies, University of Canterbury; 1994.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Bauman Z. The individualised society. Cambridge: Polity; 2001. ISBN 0745625061.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Elliott J. Using narratives in social research: qualitative and quantitative approaches. London: Sage; 2005. ISBN 0444810064.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Radley A, Billig M. Accounts of health and illness: dilemmas and representations. In: Charmaz K, Paterniti DA, editors. Health, illness and healing: society, social context and self. Los Angeles: Roxbury Publishing Company; 1999. ISBN 0935732985.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Ryan KM, Grace VM. Medicalisation and women’s knowledge: the construction of understandings of infant feeding experiences in Post-WW II New Zealand. Health Care Women Int 2001;22(5):483–500.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Hospital JT. The tiger in the tiger pit. Brisbane: University of Queensland Press; 1983.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Haafkens J. Rituals of silence: lond-term tranquilliser use by women in the Netherlands: a social case study. Amsterdam: He Spinhuis; 1997. ISBN 9055890626.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Whyte SR, Sjaak VdG, Hardon A. Social lives of medicines. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2002. ISBN 0521804698.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Lupton D. Foucault and the medicalisation critique. In: Petersen A, Bunton R, editors. Foucault, health and medicine. London and New York: Routledge; 1997. ISBN 0415151775.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Carricaburu D, Pierret J. From biographical disruption to biographical reinforcement: the case of HIV-positive men. Sociol Health Ill 1995;17(1):65–88.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Bury M, Gabe J. The sociology of health and illness: a reader, London: Routledge; 2004.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Conrad P. The meaning of medications: another look at compliance. Soc Sci Med 1985;20:29–38.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Trostle JA. Doctor’s orders and patient’s self interest. In: Schmidt D, Leppik IE, editors. Compliance in epilepsy. Amsterdam: Elsevier; 1988. ISBN 0444810064.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Trostle JA. Medical compliance as an ideology. Soc Sci Med 1988;27:1299–308.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Hassin J. Living a responsible life: the impact of AIDS on the social identity of intravenous drug users. Soc Sci Med 1994;39(3):391–400.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Monaghan L. Looking good, feeling good: the embodied pleasures of vibrant physicality. Sociol Health Ill 2001;23(3):330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Good M-JD, Munakata T, Kobayashi Y, Mattingly C, Good BJ. Oncology and narrative time. Soc Sci Med 1994;38(6):855–62.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Good BJ, Good M-JD. “Fiction” and “Historicity” in doctors’ stories. In: Mattingly C, Garro LC, editors. Narrative and the cultural construction of illness and healing. Berkeley: University of California Press; 2000. p. 50–69. ISBN 0520218248.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Health & Community StudiesBournemouth UniversityBournemouthUK
  2. 2.School of PharmacyUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK
  3. 3.School of PharmacyUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK

Personalised recommendations