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South African research trip

South African flag fluttering on a pole against a blue skyOld Members’ Trust Graduate Conference and Academic Travel Fund Report – Amy Paterson (2021, DPhil Clinical Medicine)

I am a South African medical doctor currently reading for a DPhil in Oxford. My research investigates how maternal illness impacts child well-being. The OMT generously granted £500 towards my research field work trip to South Africa at the end of 2022 for my qualitative research project exploring the impact of maternal cancer on school-aged children in South Africa. This funding was gratefully used for flights between South Africa and the UK.

On arrival in Johannesburg, South Africa, I met with local research collaborators. Together we established where we would do the interviews with mothers and children. While in South Africa I also did a course on interviewing children and young people. Importantly I had an opportunity to meet with psychologists at the relevant sites to ensure safeguarding of the children being interviewed and containment should there be any distress. This was an important step due to the sensitive nature of the topic. I also met with other key stakeholders involved in my research.

two handwritten notes, text mostly illegible

Mandela’s handwritten notes from the CODESA negotiations (which led to the end of Apartheid) – taken during a trip to the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. (click for larger image)

As is often the case with research field work, the trip was not without setbacks. The local Witwatersrand ethics committee reviewing the project required me to submit the ethics application changes requested in person, which I did on arrival in South Africa. There was a significant delay in receiving feedback following this submission, but once we received local approval we sent this to the OXTREC ethics board. Unfortunately, although we have subsequently received OXTREC approval, we did not receive this in time to conduct the actual interviews on this trip. The trip, however, remained critical in terms of stakeholder engagement and safeguarding of participants for the project. There are plans to return to South Africa in May to complete the interviews.

I would like to express my sincere thanks to OMT for facilitating this research trip.

Find out more about the range of travel grants and scholarships available to assist Univ students on our Travel Grants page or read further travel reports.

Published: 17 May 2023

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