Cortney L. Hughes, a postdoctoral researcher at the Virginia Tech Arlington Innovation Center: Health Research, has received a grant for her research project, “‘Went home to be with the Lord’: Understanding the Processes of End-of-Life Care in Rural Southwest Virginia,” from the university's Institute for Society, Culture and Environment

The institute provides both organizational and financial support for targeted creative, interactive, multi- and interdisciplinary research endeavors within the university.

Hughes will conduct fieldwork over a four month period in Giles County, Va., just west of Blacksburg. She will gather data that sheds light upon the complex social and institutional end-of-life processes in a rural area through observation and by conducting interviews in two primary care practices and in the Carilion Giles Community Hospital.

Hughes will research healthcare policies and legislation as well as institutional protocols of both the primary care practices and the hospital that impact how end-of-life care is delivered and received; assess the roles that individuals other than physicians play in end-of-life care in the hospital, including clergy and social workers; and ascertain various cultural and social factors that influence patients and their families when making decisions about end-of-life care and health care delivery provided by physicians and nurses.

Hughes earned a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology with emphases in medicine, science, and technology studies and feminist studies from the University of California, Irvine. Her dissertation, based upon 16 months of ethnographic fieldwork in three health clinics and a maternity hospital located in working class quarters of Rabat, Morocco, has been named one of the “Top 40 North American Dissertations in Cultural Anthropology” for 2010 by AnthroWorks. Her article, “Countering and Furthering Uncertainty in Morocco: Modern Contraceptive Methods and Enabling the Future,” based on her dissertation, will be published in a special issue of the Journal of North African Studies.

Hughes’ review of Blue Ribbon Babies and Labors of Love: Race, Class, and Gender in U.S. Adoption Practice by Christine Ward Gailey will appear in the June 2011 issue of American Anthropologist. She also coauthored “Technologies in the Patient-Centered Medical Home: Examining the Model from an Enterprise Perspective” which has been accepted for publication by the Journal of Telemedicine and e-Health.



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