Vikki’s research is highly interdisciplinary and collaborative. She draws particularly on social sciences and philosophy, and works with clinicians and patient-advocates as well as academic colleagues to develop practically useful thinking about how healthcare policy and practice can contribute to human flourishing. Vikki is currently particularly interested in the ethical tensions that arise in the pursuit of healthcare that is good in multiple senses at once.
Vikki’s interests in ethics developed in the context of applied health services research. In the mid-1990s while working to develop information to help patients and health professionals consider the effectiveness of different healthcare options, she saw a need for judgements of effectiveness to better reflect patients’ perspectives. She then started to raise and tackle questions about patients’ involvement in both treatment decision-making and research agenda setting. Several of her studies of patients’ perspectives illuminated important shortfalls in the prevailing choice-dominated discourse on patient involvement. A turn to feminist writing on relational theorising about autonomy, and a capabilities approach to thinking about quality of life, facilitated the development of more robust conceptions of notions of ‘shared decision-making’, ‘support for self-management’ and communication about screening (among others).
Together with Professor Alan Cribb (King’s College London), Vikki has recently secured a Wellcome Trust collaborative award to investigate what applied philosophy and ethics can offer to quality improvement work in healthcare.