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Dr Meredith Tavener

Dr Meredith Tavener

What are our research interests?

I interpret people’s experiences of life. I study how and why people ascribe meaning to certain phenomena across their life course, particularly with regards to their health.

This can include impressions of growing older, how people with chronic disease continue doing what they value, how people practice recovery after adverse health events, people’s understanding of ‘good’ and ‘poor’ health and the views of people as patients.

Why did you get into research?

We should remember that not all data are numerical, and that science and stories can go together to help create unique evidence. For example, people’s wellness and un-wellness unfolds in stories. Making sure that people can voice their thoughts and opinions (quite literally) about their own health care and experiences of complex health settings is critical. I am passionate about using qualitative evidence-gathering methods to get to the real stories that people want to share - the stories that are often hidden behind graphs and percentages. Hearing from people about their different life experiences can be absorbing and moving and can go a long way towards positive interactions and connections between people and their health services.

What would be the ultimate goal for your research?

I will always advocate for the importance and usefulness of qualitative approaches in research, so that rich nuanced evidence can be generated which helps us all to understand more about a broad range of health issues, treatments and interventions. I shall continue to conduct creative and rigorous qualitative approaches to research, to ensure that stories of health can be told from as many sides as possible.

Biography

Dr Meredith Tavener comes from a diverse research background, with qualifications in exercise physiology, health promotion, epidemiology and social gerontology, which all come together to inform her roles as lecturer and qualitative analyst with the School of Medicine and Public Health. Dr Tavener has expertise and training in applying qualitative evaluation methods, working with researchers and clinicians to analyse and interpret how people narrate and assign meaning to key health events. She has developed a strong reputation for her knowledge of theory and application of innovative qualitative methods - she conducts workshops on selected qualitative methods for students and staff and is asked to consult on qualitative research protocols.

Future Focus

Continuing to conduct and champion for, rigorous interpretive and critical inquiry of people’s experiences of health. By sharing people’s voices of what it means to be well, how health care decisions are made, how treatment is received, what influences recovery or relapse, and all the above – we will not only learn of ‘what’s the matter’ with them, but what matters to them!

Specialised/Technical Skills

  • Research in interpretive paradigms
  • Application of innovative qualitative methods in health research
  • Qualitative evaluation of health services and patient experiences
  • Creative qualitative approaches
  • Content and applied thematic analysis
  • Longitudinal qualitative analyses
  • Social gerontology
  • Healthy ageing
  • Higher Degree Research student supervision
  • Mentoring in qualitative methods
  • Interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Analyses of existing qualitative evidence
  • Analysis of free-text comments on surveys
  • Development and delivery of creative qualitative lecture online course material
  • Design and review of qualitative / mixed methods research proposals

Affiliations

  • Hunter Medical Research Institute – Public Health
  • Priority Research Centre for Stroke and Brain Injury
  • Priority Research Centre for Generational Health and Ageing
  • International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics (IAGG)
  • Australian Association of Gerontology (AAG) – including specific membership with the Housing and Built Environment Special Interest Group
  • International Longevity Centre, Australia (ILC-Australia)
  • Association for Qualitative Research (AQR)
  • Australian Consortium for Social and Political Research Incorporated (ACSPRI)
  • NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Stroke Rehabilitation and Brain Recovery
  • Society, Health and Disability Research Group Network, UTS Graduate School of Health, Sydney
  • National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (NIHR-CLAHRC) Qualitative Support Group, Wessex UK
  • Hunter Dementia Alliance 
  • HMRI Research Register Management Committee 
  • Postgraduate Education Committee, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle NSW

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