From ‘holding pen’ to ‘a space to breathe’: Affective landscapes in a newly-integrated sexual health clinic

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This paper examines the role of affective landscapes in the formation of attendees’ experiences at a re-provisioned, integrated sexual and reproductive healthcare facility. The ‘One-Stop Shop’ (OSS) is an example of the organisational shift towards integrated services occurring across the UK, bringing together in one clinic the historically discreet services of genitourinary medicine, HIV medicine and Family Planning. An ethnographically-informed study of new spaces of care and changed organisation, this paper focuses on the experiences of 29 attendees as they made their way along the clinic’s care pathways. Drawing on concepts of affect and atmosphere to augment the analytic lens of ‘therapeutic landscapes’, this paper demonstrates how various spaces of the clinic influenced attendees’ experiences. A cramped, featureless ‘holding pen’, the foyer served to exacerbate pre-existing anxieties while creating new fears. The main waiting room, an organisational sorting space, both soothed and aggravated attendees’ concerns. Serving as an architectural feature to connect the old Victorian hospital with the new clinical extension, the atrium was experienced as a space to breathe, with an affective atmosphere that challenged the assumed unpleasantness of sexual health clinics. This paper demonstrates how affective landscapes of the clinic shape attendee experiences in a novel setting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)806-820
JournalSociology of Health & Illness
Issue number4
Early online date3 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • integrated sexual health
  • ‘therapeutic landscapes’
  • place and affect
  • major service change

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