I first became interested in research when working in mental health, as a clinical pharmacist, early in my career.
“I wanted to understand the evidence behind the use of medication and conducted a number of reviews of the literature as part of my day-to-day job as a clinical pharmacist.”
Then I thought, I wonder if I can get these published. Much to my surprise, I was successful – for example a review on the role of fish oils in the treatment of mental illness published in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica.
I then obtained a promotion, moved Trusts, and started working closely with psychiatrist colleagues. This showed the importance of inter-disciplinary collaboration in building research with each profession bringing their own perspective. Whilst at this Trust, I obtained an MA in Health Services Research. This opened my eyes to the power of qualitative research; pharmacy tends to be quantitative. My dissertation focused on role of the concept of the trust in safe medication management in mental health.
I moved to academia in 2012, obtained my PhD in 2014 and was promoted to a Reader in 2018. My research has tended to use a qualitative approach and focused on medication optimisation in vulnerable populations including people living with mental health problems.
“Based on my experience, the key characteristics for researchers are an enquiring mind and resilience.”
Over the last few years I have been involved in a number of specific relevant projects. These include research on the role of pharmacy in shared-decision making in SMI and in the management of cardiometabolic risk, metabolic syndrome and related diseases in severe mental illness. I have also conducted research developing interventions to limit the inappropriate use of anti-psychotics in people living with dementia and exploring the use of new psychoactive substances by individuals in treatment for substance misuse.
In my research, I really enjoy working in a team to help patients get the best from their medication; to do this we must listen to and clearly hear the patient voice.