Broken (Again) – Making Sense of Ankle Fracture, Hospitalisation, and Early Recovery: An Autoethnography

Sally Dowling*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


There is little research on the experience of recovering from acute injury, with most first person accounts of illness about chronic ill health. Ankle fracture is a common, distressing injury with short- and long-term life-altering impacts. In this article, an autoethnographic approach is used to tell a story of ankle fracture, surgery, and subsequent early recovery. The story is told and examined from one person’s multiple perspectives – as a patient, healthcare worker, and healthcare educator – and thus reflects on both the delivery and organisation of healthcare, and the personal experience of receiving care. The impacts of ankle fracture and recovery are considered and related to other research on the experience. Common factors include pain, loss of independence, isolation, loneliness and depression, changed personal and social identities and engagement, and lack of understanding of the trajectory of recovery. Illness and injury narratives can provide valuable contributions to healthcare education and the delivery of care, as well as being used to support those living through similar experiences. This article argues that the combination of sociological thinking and patient experience has a valuable contribution to make to healthcare education.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSociological Research Online
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 18 May 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023.


  • ankle fracture
  • autoethnography
  • healthcare education
  • illness narrative
  • injury


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