“Academic primary health care: an interdisciplinary endeavour” (Public lecture, Stockton-On-Tees, 26 April 2017)

Durham University’s Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing is pleased to announce that this year’s Wolfson Annual Lecture will be given by Professor Trish Greenhalgh, Professor of Primary Care Health Sciences at Oxford University. Her lecture will review progress in primary health care as an academic discipline from the 1960s to the present day, and address the question of what has happened since 1999, when Richard Horton, the editor of the Lancet, accused academic primary health care of being self-absorbed, managerialised and “one of the most intellectually underdeveloped disciplines in medicine”.

Horton’s view was that only a handful of randomised trials had produced answers that were directly relevant to primary care decision-making. And in relation to the grey zones of primary care practice for which randomised trials were never going to provide the answers, primary care academics had not even begun to develop appropriate methodologies. Furthermore (claimed Horton), too much research effort was being spent on “administrative” questions.

Professor Greenhalgh will aim to provide a quick overview of the standard territory (randomised trials are certainly alive and well in GP land) followed by a guided tour of lesser-known research methods in the swampy lowlands of general practice from geospatial mapping to linguistic ethnography. Horton’s allegation that primary care spends too much time researching “administration” will be critically examined with reference to the pressing policy priorities of GP commissioning, effective gatekeeping and reduction of health inequalities.

Professor Greenhalgh is an internationally recognised academic in primary health care and a practising GP. She joined Oxford University in January 2015 after previously holding professorships at University College London and Queen Mary University of London. As co-Director of the Interdisciplinary Research In Health Sciences (IRIHS) unit, she leads a programme of research at the interface between social sciences and medicine, with strong emphasis on the organisation and delivery of health services. Her research seeks to celebrate and retain the traditional and humanistic aspects of medicine while also embracing the unparalleled opportunities of contemporary science and technology to improve health outcomes and relieve suffering.

The lecture will take place from 12:30 to 14:30 on 26 April in the M’Gonigle Lecture Theatre (D003), Ebsworth Building, Durham University Queen’s Campus, Stockton-On-Tees. Please note that this is a free event, but registration is essential as places are limited. Please click here to register.

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