Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Centre

Alexis Paton

Alexis Paton

Project title

Issues of Autonomy and Agency in Oncofertility: A Socio-Bioethical exploration of British adult female cancer patients making oncofertility decisions.

Project summary

Alexis's research examines British pre-menopausal cancer patients' experiences with making oncofertility decisions from a socio-bioethical perspective.

In her thesis, she uses original empirical research to examine the experiences of a small group of patients. She addresses social, clinical and ethical concerns about how patients make decisions in the medical context.

Several North American studies have noted that the ways in which cancer and fertility concerns are addressed in the medical context may affect patient decision making. Alexis's research focuses specifically on how these experiences are influenced by the medical encounters in the UK. She explores how female cancer patients make decisions about their future fertility.

Her research also examines whether social and bioethical theories of autonomy and agency adequately capture how decisions are made in practice. She uses empirical data to interrogate existing theory.

Data from interviews with patients are analysed using sociological and bioethical theories. This aims at improving understanding of how this patient group makes decisions, and how they feel this experience could be improved.

Dr Paton's research contributes to the growing body of literature seeking to identify how patients make decisions within the medical context and what types of support are necessary to address the needs identified by patients.

Furthermore, her research demonstrates how Sociology as a discipline can be seen as a constitutive part of bioethics. This project serves as an example of one way that bioethical research can be conducted through a sociological lens.

Currently she is working as a research assistant on the PEALS project 'Science, ethics and citizenship: how might we improve the practice and governance of scientific research to enhance community benefit?'