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Title: Secrets of success : the development of obstetric ultrasound in Scotland, 1963-1990
Author: Nicholson, Deborah
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 2003
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This thesis examines the diffusion of obstetric ultrasound technology in Scotland, from the early 1960s through to the end of the 1980s. Although the origins of obstetric ultrasound can be traced to 1955, and the pioneering work undertaken by Professor Ian Donald and his colleagues in Glasgow on the gynaecological applications of ultrasound, it was not until the early 1960s that the pathologies associated with pregnancy were directly investigated. Over the next thirty years, the technology underwent a number of significant transformations - in technical design, application and use, and organisation. The main focus of this thesis is on the uptake and implementation of obstetric ultrasound in new locations across Scotland, and on the dynamics of change associated with its use in clinical practice. U sing a case-study approach which centres on four individual Scottish hospitals, this thesis traces the complexity and heterogeneity evident in the diffusion of this technology. The definition of 'technology' employed in this thesis is three-dimensional - comprising of technical, cognitive and interactive/performative dimensions. Here it is argued that all three of these dimensions compose a technology, and that all three are open to adaptation and change, thus essentially changing the nature of the technology itself. This is highlighted through a comparative account, focussing on site-specific differences in the development, organisation and use of the technology. The evidence presented here has been drawn from a variety of historical sources. The recollections of a number of actors involved in the introduction, use and development of obstetric ultrasound in Scotland, as well as of women who experienced ultrasound during their pregnancies, have been collected using semi-structured interviews. To this oral history has been added information from a variety of archival sources held at the British Medical Ultrasound Society's Historical Collection (housed at The Queen Mother's Hospital, Glasgow). These include specialist professional journals, correspondence relating to ultrasound, manufacturers' literature, draft versions of key published papers, transcripts of interviews with prominent actors in the field and material donated by ultrasound workers across Scotland. Furthermore, the Collection also boasts a wide array of visual information (including pictures of various types of ultrasound equipment and images generated from them) and artifacts (ultrasound machines dating from the 1950s through to the 1980s). These, less conventional, historical sources are also employed in this thesisIn this comparative study of the diffusion of ultrasound, three related arguments are presented. Firstly, it is argued that innovation and diffusion are not mutually exclusive terms or periodising concepts, but are interwoven processes and forms of activity. The diffusion of obstetric ultrasound did not signal the 'end' of innovation, but merely the point at which new actors in new locations undertook it. Innovation is a crucial component in adapting a technology to new circumstances, users or contexts and thus it is argued that innovation and diffusion are inter-related, mutually dependent forms of interested human action. Secondly, obstetric ultrasound is characterised in this thesis as an emergent phenomenon, shaped by both technical and social factors. When the development of this technology is examined in a variety of historical and spatial contexts, it is evident that the form it takes is determined by the interplay of social factors (professional relationships and interests, actors interpretations of technology, etc.) and more technical or material factors (the way a machine responds to new demands or itself requires certain types of human or social response). Thus a complete account of the diffusion of obstetric ultrasound necessitates an approach that considers both social and material influences on technological change. Finally, this thesis explores the significance of site-specific local arrangements for the shaping of obstetric ultrasound. Interactions with technology take place within specific historical and locational settings. The specific character of each setting can affect the nature of inter-professional relationships, the organisation and administration of the technology, the characteristics of the patient population, and so on. Thus, the diffusion of obstetric ultrasound and the form that it takes in each new location are partly shaped by the way in which the technology interacts with new environments
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: R Medicine (General) ; RG Gynecology and obstetrics