Rorison, Isobel

Isobel Rorison
Start date:
October 2017
Research Topic:
Big Health Data and Journalism
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Dr Joanna Redden
Supervising school:
School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies,
Primary funding source:
ESRC

Health reporting is one of the more complex areas of journalism, requiring coverage of economic, political, and resource-allocation stories as well as medicine and disease, and increasingly data science.

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) generates one of the most comprehensive, longitudinal, person-level datasets in the world. The sharing of NHS data internally across government, and externally with private organizations, raises questions for citizens about how their data is being used beyond its primary purpose in healthcare. With comprehensive data collections come concentrations of power. Citizens need to be equipped to debate data issues, and hold to account those who control the data. In this context citizens need journalists to convey accurate, intelligible and comprehensive information about the uses of big data in health so that they can respond effectively.

The aim of my research is to:

  • Clarify the big data practices being applied to health data
  • Identify the approaches which may lead to harmful or discriminatory practices
  • Contribute to the understanding of the role of big data practices in policy making
  • Equip journalists with a blue-print for understanding the risks and opportunities of big health data.