Widening access to medicine: using mid-range theory to extend knowledge and understanding

Sandra Nicholson (Lead / Corresponding author), Kirsty Alexander, Maeve Coyle, Jennifer Cleland

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)


This chapter aims to illustrate how a previously under-theorised field of health professions research has evolved over time by engaging with theory and more rigorous research designs and methods. The topic areas are that of widening participation (WP) and widening access to medicine; in other words, increasing the diversity of medical students. The chapter aims to provide insight into this area of research but, more generally, to use it as a vehicle to reflect on how research within a particular field shifts over time, and what can be learned from the past. WP highlights equality of opportunity and relates to improving social mobility, which can be defined as breaking the transmission of disadvantage from one generation to the next. WA focuses on the equity or fairness of the selection processes that act as a gateway to higher education.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearching Medical Education
EditorsJennifer Cleland, Stephen Durning
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781119839446
ISBN (Print)9781119839415
Publication statusPublished - 23 Dec 2022


  • health professions
  • higher education
  • medical students
  • social mobility
  • widening access
  • widening participation


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