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Debra Westlake

Debra Westlake

Debra Westlake


I am a qualitative researcher, with experience in qualitative and mixed methods for applied health research, including development of theory using Realist Evaluation. I have a specific interest in ethnography and am interested in embedded research that involves patients and practitioners in research co-design, analysis and implementation. I qualified as a Speech and Language Therapist and have worked in practice in education, health and social care settings as well as internationally.

I am interested in long-term conditions, complex systems, family health care, refugee mental health and global health. My specialist areas are person-centred care and social prescribing.

I have worked on studies at the Universities of Liverpool and Plymouth as well as conducting embedded research in voluntary sector and NHS organisations. I have been joint Principle Investigator on a Global Challenges Research Fund project.

Previous projects include:

  • Researcher-in Residence evaluation of social prescribing implementation across Devon, University of Liverpool, commissioned by the Devon Integrated Care System,
  • Principle Investigator: STS Study of cultural adaptations to neonatal life support in rural Cambodia, funded by Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).
  • Kupumua – research to co-develop a culturally-adapted programme of pulmonary rehabilitation including music, dance and singing in Uganda, funded by GCRF
  • Evaluation of Integrated Personal Commissioning (IPC) across the South West of England funded by local health providers.
  • Avoidable Acute Admissions Study of different models of emergency and urgent care for the University of Plymouth, funded by National Institute for Health Research
  • Study of community child health for The Children’s Society, commissioned by local health and social care services.
  • GP attitudes to completing benefit claim forms for the Health and Community Care Research Unit (HaCCRU) at the University of Liverpool, commissioned by Department of Work and Pensions
  • Impact of government policy on family health management for the Health and Community Care Research Unit (HaCCRU) at the University of Liverpool, commissioned by Department of Health

I am the co-founder of a project in Peru and a UK registered charity that provides preschool education and community development for families in shanty towns of Lima. Working internationally has allowed me to learn about the joys and challenges of understanding cultural meanings and practice.