We tall people are well aware that being tall has a humongous impact on our lives. So you would think that this would be well recorded in the vast expanses of academic literature. But the fact is it isn’t. Julie Booth, an assistant professor in occupational therapy at Coventry University, is working to change this–she is doing an entire PhD devoted to understanding how being very tall impacts the lives of young British citizens… She just published her first paper on the topic in the reputable Journal of Occupational Science. The title is “Height matters: The experiences of very tall young British adults in relation to managing everyday occupations“. I read a copy she sent me (it’s not open access). Below are some questions I had for her, along with her answers she kindly took the time to write.
Q1. So sorry, but have to ask, how tall are you?
Q2. In a nutshell, can you explain to us what occupational science is and how it could apply to tall people specifically?
Occupational science is a body of knowledge that views the human as an occupational being, who has an innate drive to engage in daily occupations as explained by Yerxa et al (1990). Occupational science therefore focuses on every day occupations (every day activities) and includes aspects such as how occupations are formulated, why people choose the occupations they engage in, how they engage in them and what meaning they have to the person. Within Occupational Science consideration is given to the relationship between occupation, health and well being. With this in mind, it is interesting to research how people with diversity of height, through tall stature, manage their everyday occupations. Occupations involve objects and processes, and are influenced by the environment. It is interesting to discover how very tall people manage occupations involving objects and the environment (which may or may not have a good fit). It is also of benefit to consider what occupations have purpose and meaning for very tall people, alongside factors that influence occupational choice.
Q3. How are you funded and do you see much future funding for this topic?
Coventry University is funding the PhD research. Qualitative research into this area is very limited. I am keen to investigate the potential for any future funding opportunities.
Q4. Do you have any suggestions for researchers in other fields that want to make a contribution to the literature relating to tall stature?
The project is due to complete in 2020 and I will be able to provide recommendations at this time.
Q5. In short, what was the question and then answer of your study?
The overall research project question is “What are the experiences of UK very tall young adults in relation to managing everyday life and well-being?”
There are two studies that formulate the research project. I am presently undertaking study two and will be able to provide overall findings of the project once it is complete in 2020. Some of the findings from study one have been published in a peer reviewed journal and can be accessed through the Journal of Occupational Science:
Height matters: The experiences of very tall young British adults in relation to managing everyday occupations
Q6. I had never heard of the protected characteristics of the Equality Act 2010, that could really help us. What characteristics does it already protect?
The following characteristics are protected characteristics within the Equality Act 2010
marriage and civil partnership;
pregnancy and maternity;
religion or belief;
Q7. I really like your idea of studying those of us tall people who have become injured. I mean, it’s one thing to be tall and have to awkwardly sit on a low toilet seat. But then to do this with an injured hip, for instance, is really problematic. Is this what you plan to study next?
Yes, this is one of the future areas of interest that I would like to research.
Q8. What about after your PhD? What percentage of your research could you see being devoted to tall stature, if any?
I would like to suggest 50% of my post-doctoral research being focused on tall stature.
Many thanks to Julie Booth for her contributions to the literature on tall stature and her time taken for this interview. It is exactly contribution’s like hers from experts in various fields that could incite change that will make the lives of extremely tall people easier. Here is hoping that others see her contribution and are inspired to make their own!
If you have any questions for Julie, please comment below and I will make sure she sees them.