Dr Anna Lavis MA, MSc, MRes, PhD

Dr Anna Lavis

Institute of Applied Health Research
Lecturer in Medical Sociology and Qualitative Methods

Contact details

Address
Murray Learning Centre
Institute of Applied Health Research
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
UK

An anthropologist by background, Anna Lavis is a Lecturer in Medical Sociology and Qualitative Methods in the Social Studies in Medicine (SSiM) Team in the Institute of Applied Health Research. 

Her work explores individuals’ and informal caregivers’ experiences and subjectivities of mental illness and distress across a range of social and cultural contexts, both offline and on social media.

Her research to date has particularly focused on eating disorders, psychosis and self-harm, with theoretical emphases on gender, bodies and embodiment, concepts and ethics of care, and the intersections of mental health and material culture.

She has presented and published across the social and medical sciences and is involved in a number of interdisciplinary research collaborations both at Birmingham and externally. 

Anna teaches on various programmes, covering topics in qualitative methods and medical sociology, as well as undertaking doctoral supervision both at Birmingham and externally. She is also the SSiM postgraduate lead. Anna accepts invitations for teaching and examining in the UK and abroad.

She is a core member of the newly-founded Birmingham Institute for Mental Health and holds an honorary research position in the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford.

Qualifications

  • PhD Medical Anthropology: Goldsmiths, University of London, 2011.
  • MRes Medical Anthropology and Research Methods: Goldsmiths, University of London, 2006.
  • MSc Social Anthropology: University College London, 2003.
  • BA European and Middle Eastern Languages: University of Oxford, 2002 (MA, 2013)

Biography

After completing a BA in Modern Languages at the University of Oxford, Anna went on to study for an MSc in Social Anthropology at University College London. She then worked at Great Ormond Street Hospital before beginning a doctorate in Medical Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. 

Anna’s PhD thesis (awarded December 2011, no corrections) drew on ethnographic fieldwork in an English eating disorders inpatient unit and on pro-anorexia websites to investigate a desire amongst some individuals to hold onto their anorexia. It was funded by an Economic and Social Research Council studentship and won the 2010 Radcliffe-Brown Sutasoma award from the Royal Anthropological Institute. 

After joining the University of Birmingham in 2012 as a Research Fellow working on lived experiences of psychosis through the Supereden study (2010-2015), Anna became a lecturer in 2015. 

Teaching

Postgraduate supervision

Anna is interested in supervising doctoral research students in the following areas:

  • Individuals’ experiences of illness and caregiving, especially in relation to mental health
  • Women’s mental health
  • Social Media and mental health
  • Materialities/material culture and mental health
  • Homelessness and mental health
  • Anorexia and/or other eating disorders
  • Psychosis and voice hearing experiences
  • Self-harm and/or suicidality
  • Qualitative (especially ethnographic) research into any area related to mental health, illness or distress
  • Qualitative (especially ethnographic) methods applied to evaluating care practices, policies and services

If you are interesting in studying any of these subject areas please contact Anna on the contact details above, or for any general doctoral research enquiries, please email: dr@contacts.bham.ac.uk or call +44 (0)121 414 5005.

Research

Primary Research topics

  • Intimacies and complexities of lived experiences of mental ill-health and distress
  • Social media and mental health
  • Concepts, ethics and practices of care
  • Material culture/materialities of illness and caregiving 
  • Relationships among culture, ethnicity and mental health experiences and expressions
  • Women's spaces, body cultures, and wellbeing in gender-segregated religious communities.
  • Eating and eating disorders
  • Psychosis and voice hearing experiences
  • Self-harm and suicidality

Recent/Ongoing Grants 

Wellcome Trust, Seed Award in Humanities and Social Science, 2018-2019: Lead App./CI. Virtual Scars: Exploring the Ethics of Care on Social Media through Interactions Around Self-Injury.

NIHR Doctoral Research Fellowship, 2017-: Qualitative Advisor. Disparities in detention: An investigation into relationships between sociodemographic status and compulsory psychiatric care among children and adolescents. Student: Susan Walker; Lead Sup: Sonia Johnson (UCL).

Birmingham Children's Hospital Charity, 2017-2018: Qualitative Lead. Understanding Parents’ Perspectives on Clinical Trials in Children’s Heart Surgery: A Qualitative Study. Chief Investigator: Nigel Drury (Birmingham Children's Hospital)

CHDI Foundation and European Huntington’s Disease Network, 2017-2018: Co-I/Qualitative Lead: Understanding People’s Experiences of the Global, Longitudinal Enroll-HD Study: A Qualitative Study. CI: Ellice Parkinson; Co-I: Hugh Rickards (both BSMHFT).

Network funding (University of Oxford): Co-I with Karin Eli, ‘Body and Being Network, ’July 2014-February 2016. 

National School of Primary Care Research, Partner Grant. ‘Women’s Lived Experiences of a First Episode of Psychosis (FEP): A Qualitative Analysis of the Influence of Gender on Day-to-Day Experiences of FEP and Related Healthcare Needs,’ 2013-2015. CI: Lavis. Co-Is: Greenfield (Birmingham), Everard (BSMHFT), Amos (Bristol), Birchwood (Warwick). Collaborators: Boydell (Sydney). 

Visiting Academic Grant (University of Toronto and Hospital for Sick Kids, Toronto), December 2014. 

CLAHRC Service Theme 2. 2014-2017: Co-I/Qualitative Lead. Schoolspace: Screening for Eating Disorders in Schools: A Feasibility Study. CI: Max Birchwood (Warwick).

CLAHRC Service Theme 2: ‘Understanding Risk Factors for the Development of Eating Disorders: A Qualitative Study,’ 2013-2015.CI: Birchwood (Warwick). Co-I’s: Lavis (Qualitative Lead), Leung (BSMHFT), Connor (BSMHFT). 

UK (NIHR) Programme Grant: ‘SUPEREDEN (Sustaining Positive Engagement and Recovery)’, 2010-2016. CI: Birchwood (Warwick); PIs: Lester (Qualitative Lead until deceased 2012); Lavis (Qualitative Lead, 2012-2015), Freemantle (UCL), Amos (Bristol), Fowler (UEA), Hodgekins (UEA), Jones (Cambridge), Marshall (Manchester), Sharma (Chester), Larsen (Rethink), McCrone (King’s), Singh (Warwick), Smith (Worcester). Programme Manager: Linda Everard (BSMHFT). 

Research groups and centres 

The Birmingham Institute for Mental Health

Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford

Unit for Biocultural Variation and Obesity

Consuming Materialities: Bodies, Borders and Encounters (Founded with Dr Emma-Jayne Abbots UWTSD)

Other activities

  • Series Editor (2016-), with Alison Summers, International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis (ISPS) Book Series, Routledge.
  • Honorary Associate, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford.
  • Guest Lecturer, Division of Psychiatry, University College London.
  • Co-founder, with Karin Eli, of the ‘Body and Being Network.’
  • This is a public engagement network that seeks to develop dialogues about the body among social and medical scientists and performance artists. http://bodyandbeingnetwork.org Twitter: @bodyandbeingnet 

Podcasts

'Anorexia, care and comfort’

‘Dangerous engagements? Exploring pro-anorexia websites and in the media'

Publications

• As an Editor

Lavis A. and Abbots E-J (forthcoming) ‘Consuming Materialities: Bodies, Boundaries and Encounters.’ Special Issue of Cultural Politics.

Eli K. and Lavis A. (March 2016) ‘Corporeal’. Special Issue of M/C Journal of Media and Culture, 19, (1). 

Abbots E-J., Lavis A. and Attala L. (Eds.) (2015) Careful Eating: Bodies, Food and Care. Ashgate.

Abbots E-J & Lavis A. (Eds.) (2013) Why We Eat, How We Eat: Contemporary Encounters Between Foods and Bodies. Ashgate

• As an Author (recent)

Lavis A. (accepted, in press) 'Not Eating or Tasting Other Ways to Live: A Qualitative Analysis of Individuals’ Accounts of Living Through and Desiring to Maintain Anorexia'. Transcultural Psychiatry

Gee, B., Hodgekins, J., Lavis, A., Notley, C. et al. (accepted, in press) 'Lived-Experiences of Negative Symptoms in First-Episode Psychosis: A Qualitative Secondary Analysis'. Early Intervention in Psychiatry.

Fowler, D., Hodgekins, J., French, P., Marshall, M., Freemantle, N., McCrone, P., Everard, L., Lavis, A., et al. (accepted, in press) 'Sustaining and enhancing positive engagement and recovery in first episode psychosis using Social Recovery Therapy in combination with Early Intervention Services (the SUPEREDEN3 trial): a randomised controlled trial'. Lancet Psychiatry.

Radhakrishnan, M., McCrone, P., Lafortune, L., Everard, L., Fowler, D., Amos, T., Freemantle, N., Singh, S., Marshall, M., Sharma, V., Lavis, A., et al. (accepted, in press). 'Cost-effectiveness of early intervention services for psychosis and fidelity to national policy implementation guidance'. Early Intervention in Psychiatry

Fowler, D., Hodgekins, J., French, P., Marshall, M., Freemantle, N., McCrone, P., Everard, L., Lavis, A. et al.(2018) 'Social recovery therapy in combination with early intervention services for enhancement of social recovery in patients with first-episode psychosis (SUPEREDEN3): a single-blind, randomised controlled trial'. Lancet Psychiatry. 5 (1): 41-50.

Eli, K. and Lavis, A. (2018) 'Becoming fit to be a mother: class, learning, and redemption in ‘Supersize vs. Superskinny.’' Journal of Gender Studies, 27 (2): 129-140.

Lavis, A. (2017) 'Food porn, pro-anorexia and the viscerality of virtual affect: exploring eating in cyberspace'. Geoforum, 84:198-205.

Lavis, A. (2016) 'A desire for anorexia: living through distress'. Med. Anth. Theory 3 (1): 68–76.

Lavis, A. (2016) 'Foods, bodies and the stuff of (not) eating in anorexia'. Gastronomica, 16 (3): 56-65.

Connor, C., Greenfield, S., Channa, S., Palmer, C., Barker, C. Lavis, A. Birchwood, M. (2016) 'Seeking help for first-episode psychosis: a family narrative'. Early Int. in Psych., 10: 334-5.

Lavis, A. (2016) 'Social media and anorexia: A qualitative analysis of ‘pro-anorexia’'. Ed. and Hlth, 34(2)

Lavis, A. and Eli, K. (2016) Editorial - 'Corporeal: exploring the material dynamics of embodiment'. M/C, Journal of Media and Culture, 19 (1): n.p.

Lavis, A. Lester, H., Everard, L., Freemantle, N., Amos, T., Fowler, D., Hodgekins, J., Jones, P., Marshall, M., et al. (2015) 'Layers of listening: a qualitative analysis of the impact of early intervention services for first-episode psychosis on carers’ experiences'. British Journal of Psychiatry, 207(2), 135-142.

Lavis, A. (2015) 'Consuming (through) the Other? Rethinking fat and eating in BBW videos online'. M/C, Journal of Media and Culture, 18(3), n.p.

Lavis, A. (2015) 'Jumping to blame social media for eating disorders is dangerous'. The Conversation 

Lavis, A. (2015) 'Careful starving: exploring (not) eating, care and anorexia'. In Abbots, E-J., Lavis A. and Attala, L. (Eds.) Careful Eating: Bodies, Food and Care. Ashgate.

Lavis, A., Abbots, E-J., and Attala, L. (2015) 'Reflecting on the embodied intersections of eating and caring'. In Abbots, E-J., Lavis A. and Attala, L. (Eds.) Careful Eating: Bodies, Food and Care. Ashgate.

Lavis, A. (2014) 'Alarming engagements? Pro-anorexia website in/and the media'. In Eli, K. & Ulijaszek, S. (Eds.) Sound Bites: Media Representations of Obesity and Eating Disorders. Ashgate.

Eli, K. & Lavis, A. (2014) 'From abject eating to abject being: representations of obesity in ‘Supersize vs. Superskinny’'. In Eli, K. & Ulijaszek, S. (Eds.) Sound Bites: Media Representations of Obesity and Eating Disorders. Ashgate

Lavis, A. (2014) 'Engrossing encounters: materialities and metaphors of fat in the lived experiences of individuals with anorexia'. In Forth, C. and Leitch, A. (Eds.) Fat: Culture and Materiality. Berg

Birchwood, M., Lester, H. E., McCarthy, L., Jones, P., Fowler, D., Amos, T., Freemantle, N., Sharma, V., Lavis, A. Singh, S. and Marshall, M. (2014) 'The UK national evaluation of the development and impact of Early Intervention Services (The National Eden Studies): study rationale, design and baseline characteristics'. Early Intervention in Psychiatry, 8, 1: 59-67.

Abbots, E-J & Lavis, A. (2013) 'Contours of eating: mapping the terrain of body/food encounters'. In Abbots, E-J. & Lavis, A. (Eds.) Why We Eat, How We Eat: Contemporary Encounters Between Foods and Bodies. Ashgate.

Lavis, A. (2013) 'The substance of absence: exploring eating and anorexia'. In Abbots, E-J. & Lavis, A. (Eds.) Why We Eat, How We Eat: Contemporary Encounters Between Foods and Bodies. Ashgate