Coma and Disorders of Consciousness research centre

We are a multi-disciplinary group of researchers exploring the cultural, ethical, legal and social dimensions of coma, vegetative and minimally conscious states. We also offer support and signposting for families with relatives in prolonged disorders of consciousness, and training for health workers, advocates, and others working in this area. We are independent of any campaigning or political organisations and  committed to robust research evidence both in the work that we do and in making recommendations for changes to policy and practice. Learn about the background to our work from the discussion below.

We have an extensive research archive of interviews with family members and are planning to extend our research into, for example, ethnographic work in care homes. We are pursuing research into how decision-making, care and support can be improved and exploring the social, clinical, ethical and economic debates around this issue, as well as examining the potential of innovative cultural engagements to enrich public debate. We have also translated the research findings into multi-media online resources to support families and practitioners and worked with legal experts to explore, and seek to improve, how the law and the courts deal with end-of-life decision-making.

Learn about the impact of our work, and some of the resources we have developed in the film below

The network of staff involved in the centre are interested in a wide range of questions including: how developments in ‘brain science’ influence understandings of (un)consciousness; how ‘personhood’ is perceived in relation to the vegetative state, how the ‘minimally conscious’ diagnosis is constructed, deployed and contested; and how such states are represented in literature, the media, law and everyday practice. We share data to facilitate inter-disciplinary working and collaborate across sector boundaries.

Watch the short film below for an introduction to just some of the themes developed from our collaboration with several colleagues at the University of York.