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F18 The ethics of exploring social cognition in hd using ethnography during a pandemic
  1. Alex Fisher1,2,
  2. Anna Lavis2,
  3. Hugh Rickards1,2,
  4. Sheila Greenfield2
  1. 1Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK
  2. 2University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK


Aim Using ethnography to study social cognition through social functioning in HD will begin to address the empirical gap in our knowledge of everyday life with HD from the perspective of both people with HD and their companions.

As ethnography moves into the messiness of real life in that the researcher is an observer of the participants in their own space and this now needs to include Covid safe strategies (i.e. online observation) risks to all parties may be seen as greater due to the nature of HD alongside exploring the intimacies of interaction remotely. Primacy needs to be given to the principle of ‘do no harm’.

Method Whilst our fears often do not come to fruition, researchers using this methodology with people with HD and their companions need to consider:

  • Involving a patient participant group

  • Building trust and rapport amongst the community through the life of the project and beyond

  • Family dynamics

  • Tensions which may have been worsened by the pandemic

  • A distress strategy

  • Adjusting the way we as researchers do things and not the other way round

  • Giving more structure, planning and prompting to optimise HD engagement

  • Fluid revisiting of consent

  • Access to technology

  • The limitations of technology in this population

Outcome Thoughtful preparation although time consuming may enable equitable access to all interested participants but also reduce risks. As Markham notes methods = ethics.

  • ethics
  • ethnography
  • social cognition
  • social functioning
  • pandemic

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