7th Biennial ACSPRI Social Science Methodology Conference

Transdisciplinary Generalism: naming the epistemology and philosophy of the generalist
2020-12-02, 10:50–11:05, Zoom Breakout Room 2

Transdisciplinary Generalism: naming the epistemology and philosophy of the generalist
Johanna M Lynch1,2, Christopher Dowrick3, Pam Meredith4, Sue L.T. McGregor5, Mieke van Driel1

  1. Primary Care Clinical Unit, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Queensland
  2. Integrate Place, Queensland, Australia
  3. Institute of Population Health Sciences, University of Liverpool, UK
  4. School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences, Central Queensland University, Australia
  5. McGregor Consulting Group, Seabright NS Canada

Purpose: Generalist skills are of importance across the community, especially in those clinical disciplines that highly value whole person care that attends to biography as well as biology. Generalist researchers are often caught between reductionist (positivist) biomedical measures and social science (post-positivist) constructivist theories of knowing. Neither of these approaches, even when juxtaposed in mixed-methods research, approximate the complexity of the generalist clinical encounter. A theoretically robust research methodology is needed that acknowledges the complexity of interpreting these ways of knowing in research and clinical practice.
Methods: We undertook a conceptual review of literature that outlines the philosophy and practice of generalism in primary care setting and both the practical (Zurich) and philosophical or methodological (Nicolescuian) schools of transdisciplinarity.
Results: Concurrence between generalism and transdisciplinarity were clearly identified in the literature, revealing alignment in their broad scope, relational process, complex knowledge management, humble attitude to knowing, and real-world outcome focus. These processes were described and named Transdisciplinary Generalism (a neologism developed for this inquiry)
Conclusions: Transdisciplinary Generalism is a way to define a participatory, reflexive inclusive approach to knowledge as a research methodology. It could facilitate translation of the complexity of generalist ways of knowing into academic forms of knowledge, and vice versa. Transdisciplinary Generalism is a coherent epistemology and philosophy that could be used to define the goals, process and content of integrative research as well as the clinical practice of whole person care.

Funding: This research was undertaken as part of a PhD through The University of Queensland and funded by the Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship and the Advance Queensland Scholar program 2016-2019.


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