Navigating medical expertise

Red Deer College instructor Trish Campbell had somewhat of an ulterior motive for writing her PhD dissertation on how runners use mediated medical expertise in their self-care practices. The long-time runner and yoga instructor had battled injuries and wanted to delve deeper into the hows and the whys of self-care.

  • Mar. 11, 2016 7:50 a.m.

Red Deer College instructor Trish Campbell had somewhat of an ulterior motive for writing her PhD dissertation on how runners use mediated medical expertise in their self-care practices.

The long-time runner and yoga instructor had battled injuries and wanted to delve deeper into the hows and the whys of self-care.

In Public participation, mediated expertise, and reflexivity: How multiple medical realities are negotiated in runners’ (self)care practices, Campbell explores how people understand sources of medical expertise, use it, share it and produce it with different social groups.

There are lessons for both health-care practitioners and for people who are using medical expertise, said Campbell.

She said runners act as a lens for how the average person participates with medical expertise and her general conclusions apply to a broader group.

In her ethnographic research, Campbell looked at the Red Deer Runners as a face-to-face group and participants from Running Mania, a Canadian online running community. She observed online running injury forums and groups. In total she interviewed 37 runners in person and through email, about half from the Red Deer Runners in 2014.

She delved into the contextual factors such as rising health-care costs and how some care practices could be downloaded onto people from the hospitals.

“In popular culture and in all media forums, there has been a questioning of expertise,” said Campbell. “Part of what it is facilitated by Web 2.0, the idea that people can access multiple forms of medical expertise that were only available to experts before … this running group for an example – gives them a space where they can negotiate and create this expertise away from traditional sites of knowledge production.”

Runners are active participants in health care who negotiate medical expertise in light of their practice.

“Often times if a runner goes to a medical expert with a running injury, the expert will say, ‘stop running,’” said Campbell.

“This is not what runners want to hear. A runner’s framing of health is not necessarily to be pain free but to able to run, maybe experience pain, but still be able to run.”

That is a whole different framing of health between some health-care providers and some runners, said Campbell.

“Runners tend to seek out health care professionals who have the same kind of active approach,” said Campbell. “You just don’t want someone to tell you to stop running, you want them to tell you to do in order to keep running.”

She also learned runners produce knowledge around particular types of injuries such as blisters that medical experts might not possess. But it may also be common injuries in runners such as Achilles tendinitis. Campbell said runners create a body of expertise among themselves, which includes forms of medical expertise.

For example, a runner may cut a hole in his or her shoe so they do not run on a bunion or lose a toenail.

“There’s a lot of tinkering that goes on once that medical expertise is combined with experience expertise in everyday running practices,” she said.

The biggest surprise in her research was how runners deal with uncertainty and anxiety when multiple medical experts have conflicting knowledge claims. That idea didn’t really exist. Campbell said she thinks it has to do with the take charge attitude that runners have.

“I saw that they were willing to tinker with multiple forms of expertise and it didn’t generate anxiety that they couldn’t just go to one expert who could tell them this is what they have to do,”she said. “They were really willing to participate in their self-care practices. As a runner you can’t find your expertise from just one person, so you need your physiotherapist, your massage therapist, your runner community.”

Medical practitioners, on the other hand, need to have some reflexivity in their care practices, said Campbell.

“They need to examine where their knowledge comes from and where that knowledge may be understood outside of that expert group,” said Campbell. “Also when you look at those medical professionals that were really valued by runners, it was those ones that were willing to try new things, willing to tinker, willing to be open to different type of practices instead of just following routine ways of doing things.”

The focus of the dissertation is to describe and understand than prescribe a certain policy direction.

“It’s implicitly critical in the sense it recognizes that there are multiple realities that are negotiated in health care,” she said. “There’s not just one form of expertise or one way of understanding the body.”


Send your column ideas, photos and stories to Find Running with Rhyno on Facebook and @CrystalRhyno on Twitter and Instagram.

Just Posted

Chris Smith (left), Knud Petersen (middle left), Rose Marie Sackela and Dianne Wyntjes spoke Friday at an informational coal policy rally outside Red Deer City Hall. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Shanna Lydiard complains that her mail hasn’t been delivered for over 10 weeks due to water main construction on her West Park block. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
Residents of Red Deer street have no mail delivery for 10-plus weeks

Shanna Lydiard says she doesn’t trust the city’s promises

FILE - Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced that Albertans could start booking second dose shots of the COVID-19 vaccine starting Tuesday night. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Public measures will be lifted: Alberta will enter Stage 3 on Canada Day

Alberta will enter Stage 3 of its Open for Summer Plan on… Continue reading

A massive round dance, involving hundreds of people at Bower Ponds, was a highlight of Canada Day celebrations in 2000. (Contributed photo)
Fireworks without a Canada Day celebration is planned for July 1 in Red Deer

Many residents aren’t in a festive mood, with recent Indigenous graves discovery

Students’ Association of Red Deer College president Brittany Lausen says the government needs to be transparent about why RDC doesn’t have degrees yet. (Red Deer Advocate file photo)
Brittany Lausen earns RDC Outstanding Student Award

Student’s Association of Red Deer College president Brittany Lausen has been named… Continue reading

A supporter of presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi holds a sign during a rally in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. Iran's clerical vetting committee has allowed just seven candidates for the Friday, June 18, ballot, nixing prominent reformists and key allies of President Hassan Rouhani. The presumed front-runner has become Ebrahim Raisi, the country's hard-line judiciary chief who is closely aligned with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
Iran votes in presidential poll tipped in hard-liner’s favor

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iranians voted Friday in a presidential… Continue reading

Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto, left, and President Seiko Hashimoto attend the news conference after receiving a report from a group of infectious disease experts on Friday, June 18, 2021, in Tokyo. The experts including Shigeru Omi, head of a government coronavirus advisory panel, issued a report listing the risks of allowing the spectators and the measurements to prevent the event from triggering a coronavirus spread. (Yuichi Yamazaki/Pool Photo via AP)
Top medical adviser says ‘no fans’ safest for Tokyo Olympics

TOKYO (AP) — The safest way to hold the Tokyo Olympics is… Continue reading

FILE - In this June 12, 2021, file photo, Rajkumar Haryani, 38, who painted his body to create awareness about vaccination against the coronavirus poses for photographs after getting a dose of Covishield vaccine in Ahmedabad, India. Starting June 21, 2021, every Indian adult can get a COVID-19 vaccine dose for free that was purchased by the federal government. The policy reversal announced last week ends a complex system of buying vaccines that worsened inequities in accessing vaccines. India is a key global supplier of vaccines and its missteps have left millions of people waiting unprotected. The policy change is likely to address inequality but questions remain and shortages will continue. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki, File)
How India is changing vaccine plan amid shortages

NEW DELHI (AP) — Starting Monday, every adult in India will be… Continue reading

Chief of Defence staff General Jonathan Vance speaks during a news conference to , in Ottawa Tuesday August 30, 2016. The Canadian Armed Forces says it is making progress in the fight against sexual misconduct in the ranks, but much more work needs to be done. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Freeze promotions until military commanders are screened for misconduct: Committee

OTTAWA — A parliamentary committee has called for a freeze on all… Continue reading

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen takes part in an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. Hussen says he is looking to municipalities to reshape local rules to more quickly build units through the government's national housing strategy. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Cities should redo planning, permitting to align with housing strategy, minister says

OTTAWA — The federal minister in charge of affordable housing says he… Continue reading

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. On June 1, NACI had said AstraZeneca recipients "could" get Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna for their second shot if they wanted, but Thursday went further to say an mRNA vaccine was the "preferred" choice. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

When Gwenny Farrell booked her second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine… Continue reading

Brooklyn Nets' James Harden, right, is guarded by Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, center, during the first half of Game 6 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Bucks bounce back to defeat Nets 104-89 and force Game 7

MILWAUKEE — Khris Middleton scored 38 points, Giannis Antetokounmpo added 30 and… Continue reading

Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (21) brings the puck up the ice against the New York Islanders during the third period of Game 3 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinals, Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Uniondale, N.Y. Tampa Bay won 2-1.(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Point scores again, Lightning beat Islanders 2-1 in Game 3

Lightning 2 Islanders 1 (Tampa Bay leads series 2-1) UNIONDALE, N.Y. —… Continue reading

Most Read