The Health Experience Research Group or ‘HERG’ at Oxford University’s Department of Primary Care Health Sciences are responsible for the research that appears on healthtalk.org. The unique partnership between HERG (formerly The DIPEx Research Group) and the charity DIPEx, who maintain this website, began in 1999 when Drs Ann McPherson and Andrew Herxheimer had the idea to develop a website that would provide reliable information about ordinary people’s experiences of health and illness.
HERG was set up to collect and analyse health experiences using rigorous qualitative research methods to ensure that the information provided was balanced and accurate.The aim was to interview enough people (between 30 and 50) from different backgrounds that:
* The information on the website could represent the full range of experiences that might be connected with a health condition
* Visitors to our site could find experiences that they relate to
* The information provided will help people to make informed decisions about their health, backed up by solid evidence
HERG has grown into a team of twenty researchers, all of whom are social scientists by training with backgrounds in sociology, anthropology, health policy, psychology, discourse analysis and history. Over 3500 people have been interviewed by our research team about their experiences of more than 85 health related issues. The methodology used by HERG has been taught to partners in other UK universities and overseas. This has resulted in projects being produced for healthtalk.org and counterpart websites being set up in the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Japan and Canada, among others, as part of the DIPEx International initiative. Members of HERG are involved in establishing the Health Experiences Institute.
The methods used by the Oxford Health Experiences Research Group have set the benchmark for research into health and illness experiences.