Professor Deborah Swinglehurst, United Kingdom

Scholar November 2020

I am a Professor of Primary Care at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and combine my role with working as a General Practitioner in Suffolk, UK.

I am a qualitative researcher leading an interdisciplinary team exploring interfaces between medicine, social science and linguistics. Underpinning my research and clinical practice is my commitment to ensuring that the person remains the key focus of care; medicine is fundamentally a human and moral practice. I use a range of methodologies, including ethnographic and narrative approaches, to explore day-to-day practices and extend understanding of the person, their relationships, social interactions and the ‘work’ of health care. This is important given the rising tide of bureaucratisation, marketization and standardisation which together threaten to reduce medicine and health care to a set of technical skills and marginalise the ‘persons’ involved in delivering and receiving care.

I am funded by the NIHR to lead the APOLLO-MM project (Addressing the Polypharmacy Challenge in Older People with Multimorbidity: www.polypharmacy.org.uk). This is an in-depth ethnographic study of experiences and practices of polypharmacy in community settings, with a particular focus on older adults who have multiple medical problems. Our aim is to improve care by producing ‘practice based’ evidence to inform a person-centred approach to safe and effective medicines use.

I will spend my time at Vaughan Park reflecting on and synthesising some of our rich data and analyses into written publications for academic and clinical audiences. I will also plan the development of professional e-learning materials and public engagement resources to disseminate our learning.