Summary of the study

The present study seeks to understand the practices, perceptions and experiences of scientists, health professionals and research volunteers who are involved in scientific and clinical research studies regarding to the early detection of cancer in Cambridge, UK. It will comprise 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork, divided into three components according to the research site.


The study will comprise 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork, divided into three components according to the research site.

diagram with sumary of components

The first component is to be carried out within the CRUK Cambridge Early Detection Centre from November 2019 for a few months. It includes an exploration of how various academic and clinical researchers collaborate to develop technologies.

The second component, to be carried out at CuRED: Clinical infrastructure for Research in Early Detection, pays attention to the technologies that are applied in clinical research settings. It considers the experiences of both health professionals working in the field, as well as the experiences of research volunteers.

In the third component, the study unpacks the potential impact of detection technologies at a personal and social level. It asks how healthy research volunteers make sense of their participation in clinical research studies in their everyday lives.  

Methodological approach

The study will gather information through observation of scientific and clinical practices; conversations with researchers, health professionals and research volunteers; participation in research activities; and participant-observation with a subsample of research volunteers.

The study plans to use an anthropological method of analysis, which is broadly defined as an inductive and comparative exercise through which research participants’ experiences and worldviews are understood in their own terms. The systematic collection of these experiences will be put into a wider context, extracting meaning, relevance, and societal impact.

Observing the real-life impact of early cancer detection studies will be invaluable to better understand the social acceptability of early detection technologies; and any relational, psychological, and even socioeconomic changes in research participants’ lives.

%d bloggers like this: