Getting Back to Normal?

Patients' experiences and expectations following major illness or injury

The phrase 'getting back to normal', often used to describe recovery from an illness or injury, carries with it social expectations that people will recover and that recovery will be a relatively straightforward process. Surprisingly little research has examined recovery from the patient's perspective and there has been much less research on patients' experiences of injury compared with that of illness.

This project is undertaking a secondary analysis, using thematic and narrative approaches, of 163 qualitative interviews from 4 datasets. 3 datasets are from the Health Experiences Research Group archive, University of Oxford, and the 4th is from the UK Burden of Injury Study


Examination of socially constructed notions of 'normal' and 'getting back to normal' within patients' accounts; and comparison of patients' expectations and experiences of recovery from four types of health event (heart attacks, leukaemia, serious injury requiring hospitalisation and a critical state of health requiring admission to intensive care).


The research findings and implications for policy and practice will be discussed with stakeholders at a dissemination day conference held at the end of the project and disseminated via a website, conference presentations and in a range of publications for practitioner and academic audiences.

  • Funded by: ESRC                                                            
  • Total grant: £98,713
  • Timescale: May 2013 - April 2015
  • Staff: Professor Hilary Thomas (PI), Elaine McNeilly
  • External collaborators: Dr Sarah Earthy (Co-applicant), Judith Sleney, University of Surrey