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Sam Porter is a sociologist by academic training and a nurse by profession. His wide research interests reflect this combination. His main areas of interest are palliative and end-of-life care; supportive care for cancer survivors and carers; maternal and child health; the sociology of health professionals; and the use of arts-based therapies. Recently, he has combined his interests through leadership of a randomised controlled trial to assess the effectiveness of music therapy in improving the well-being of children with behavioural problems, and a current pilot trial examining whether music therapy can reduce the anxiety of people reaching the end of their lives. In line with existing research strengths in the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences relating to the experiences of older people, he is taking an increasing interest in issues around palliative care for the elderly.

Sam has adopted a wide range of methods in his research, ranging from the above-mentioned randomised controlled trials to the use of qualitative approaches such as ethnography. He is a strong advocate of realist approaches to knowledge, which provide a robust rationale for the use of mixed methods. In his advocacy of a realist philosophy of science, he has enjoyed a number of contentious debates.

Sam teaches on social theory, research methods and the sociology of health.


Sam Porter’s research deals with one of the most difficult and sensitive areas of human experience - caring for people who are reaching the end of their lives.