Blizard Institute - Barts and The London

Complex Intervention and Social Practice in Health Care


Full title: Complex Intervention and Social Practice in Health Care 

Research Centre: Centre for Primary Care and Public Health

The unit for Complex Intervention and Social Practice in Health Care brings together researchers, educators and PhD students who seek to understand and embrace the complexity and ‘messiness’ of day-to-day primary health care and use this knowledge to improve patient experience and outcomes. The research we do is mainly community-based and clinically-grounded but our portfolio also includes studies which investigate complex methodological issues – for example the nature of process evaluation in research, the conduct of pragmatic trials, the practices of interdisciplinary working, the role of evidence in implementation. We collaborate closely with the Pragmatic Clinical Trials Unit.

Our unit includes scholars from diverse disciplinary backgrounds including medicine, nursing, public health, social anthropology, psychology, social policy. Our research reflects this diversity and often draws on mixed methodological approaches, either bringing together quantitative and qualitative elements or involving mixed qualitative methods. It includes projects which begin with a phase of qualitative research to inform the development and evaluation of complex ‘non-drug’ interventions in trial settings. These trials are typically accompanied by a process evaluation so that we can learn not only ‘what works’ but how and why interventions work, and in what kinds of circumstances. Several projects have qualitative methods at their core. The Unit has a track record of leading in primary care research which uses novel methodologies such as linguistic ethnography, co-design and narrative. Our collaborations are far-reaching and include fields as diverse as linguistics, history, philosophy, science and technology studies.

Some of our projects focus on patients with specific diseases (e.g. a study exploring the narratives of migrants to the UK who have tuberculosis; a study exploring online discussion fora for stroke patients) but across all of our work is a collective interest in how disease and illness experiences interact with each other and with social context. Major current programmes of work include: the TANDEM study, an NIHR-funded mixed methods study which is developing a tailored cognitive-behaviour-therapy intervention for patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease with mild-to-moderate anxiety and depression; an NIHR-funded ethnographic study which is employing mixed qualitative methods to explore patients’ and professionals’ experiences and practices in situations of ‘high risk’ polypharmacy to inform medicines optimisation.

Several members of our Unit combine their research expertise with teaching posts in the Global Health Programmes or with part-time posts in the East London Research Design Service and most of the Unit members have some involvement in teaching medical undergraduates studying the MBBS curriculum.

Our unit meets monthly to discuss research issues that members identify as important, current and of general interest to the group. We also organise the QMUL Social Science Forum an interdisciplinary research forum which brings together academics interested in social science and health from within and beyond QMUL and meets on an approximately termly basis. A recent venture is the new Thinking about Trials group which meets regularly to discuss trial methodologies from an interdisciplinary perspective.


Professor Stephanie JC Taylor, Professor in Public Health and Primary Care , Queen Mary University of London, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Centre for Primary Care and Public Health, Blizard Institute, Email:

Deputy director

Dr Deborah Swinglehurst, NIHR Clinician Scentist, Centre for Primary Care and Public Health, QMUL, Email:

Centre for Primary Care and Public Health
Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry
Yvonne Carter Building
58 Turner Street
E1 2AB