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Wolfson Institute of Population Health

Professor Deborah Swinglehurst, MBBS MA MSc PhD FHEA FRCGP


Professor of Primary Care, NIHR Clinician Scientist

Telephone: 020 7882 7204


I am a General Practitioner and primary care researcher, combining my academic role with working as a GP in Suffolk. My research explores interfaces between medicine, social science and linguistics and focuses on the role of interaction and social relationships in primary health care settings.

I gained my first degree in Medical Sciences from the University of Cambridge in 1990, qualified as a doctor at Imperial College London in 1993, and became a GP in 1998. I completed my postgraduate studies at UCL (MSc) and QMUL (PhD).

I lead an interdisciplinary team of researchers and PhD students exploring a range of generalist concerns including: multiple long term conditions; polypharmacy and medicines optimisation; medical overuse; the role of information technologies in practice; how health policies shape practice; patient and professional experiences of health care. I bring a scholarly lens to the work done by practitioners and patients as they navigate the complexities of health care. My research is grounded in practice and I seek to develop ‘practice-based’ evidence for clinicians and policymakers.

I am Institute Theme Lead for Complexity and Social Sciences and co-lead of the Primary Care Unit.  I am also on the core management team for the Wellcome Doctoral Training Programme and QMUL’s membership of the NIHR School for Primary Care. I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners.

In 2019 I received the RCGP/SAPC John Fry Award for my contribution to the discipline of general practice through research.


I have extensive teaching experience including 3 years as Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of East Anglia involved in community based teaching of medical undergraduates and 6 years as a tutor at UCL on an online MSc in International Primary Health Care.

MBBS medical undergraduate teaching as PBL facilitator, supervisor of intercalated degrees and SSC projects.

Tutor on the MRes Health Data in Practice programme.


Research Interests:

I am Principal Investigator on the APOLLO-MM project (Addressing the polypharmacy challenge in older people with multimorbidity). This is an in-depth ethnographic case study of patients’ and professionals’ experiences and practices of polypharmacy and adopts mixed qualitative methods. It is funded by the NIHR through a Clinician Scientist Award. My team is conducting a range of related work including projects investigating: the experiences of Pakistani patients affected by multimorbidity and polypharmacy; the role of informal carers in caring for patients affected by multimorbidity; how working-age adults affected by multimorbidity navigate systems of care; conversations about medicines between people with dementia and their carers.


My research involves a range of qualitative approaches including ethnography and linguistic ethnography, discourse analysis, narrative approaches, video-reflexive ethnography.


View all Deborah Swinglehurst's Research Publications


    I welcome enquiries from prospective PhD students who wish to conduct research in my areas of interest.


    Current PhD students:


    Esca van Blarikom (QMUL. NIHR-ARC funded): Navigating systems of care and their intersections in the context of multiple morbidity: a qualitative study or working-age adults with long-term physical and mental health conditions.


    Lucie Hogger (QMUL. NIHR-funded) Talking medicines: conversations between people with dementia and informal carers.


    Jackie Walumbe (University of Oxford; NIHR funded): Supporting successful self-management strategies for people living with chronic pain


    Previous PhD students:


    Danniella Samos (QMUL; ESRC funded): The ‘War on the Obesity Epidemic’: Metaphorical framings of obesity in different text types


    Jessica Potter (QMUL; MRC funded): Tuberculosis: An exclusionary politics of care


    Meredith Hawking (QMUL; NIHR funded): A narrative exploration of medicine taking and illness experience amongst patients with atrial fibrillation taking direct oral anticoagulants

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