Co‐production in the epidemiological clinic: a decentred analysis of the tensions in community-based, client‐facing risk work

Nicola Gale, Manni Sidhu, Patrick Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
128 Downloads (Pure)


Public health policies to prevent disease within populations are giving rise to shifting patterns of healthcare delivery in the late modern era. There is an inherent tension in modern medicine between evidence‐based standardisation, on the one hand, and patient‐centred specificity on the other. This tension manifests in recent policy narratives regarding public health risk(which we have characterised in terms of the epidemiological clinic) and co‐production. Drawing on co‐produced data with health trainers (lay health workers tasked with supporting behavioural change in patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease) in a deprived post‐industrial region of England, our decentred analysis focuses on three extended narratives from this data set. Our analysis builds on and develops emerging theories of risk work,informed by Habermas, and we explore the extent to which elite narratives of public health risk are resisted, absorbed, or  bracketed  off  by  client‐facing  health  workers—emphasising the heterogeneity of responses—and locate these responses within the context of the workers' employment conditions, their embodied experiences, and their wider beliefs and traditions. We argue that co‐production—albeit in a highly constrained form—is possible while delivering public health interventions. However, in the context of a community where health is so adversely affected by wider social problems and where task shifting has drawn lower status healthcare workers into these client‐facing roles, workers must find their own ways to negotiate and attempt to reconcile this context with the risk‐framed practices they are required to carry out. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203–218
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Policy and Administration
Issue number2
Early online date28 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


  • co‐production
  • decentred theory
  • lifeworld
  • public health workforce
  • risk work
  • task shifting
  • co-production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration


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