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Debra Westlake

Debra Westlake

Research groups

Debra Westlake



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

I am interested in long-term conditions, complex interventions, 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 and am a Co-applicant on an NIHR funded study of a peer support intervention for refugee mental health.

Previous projects include:

  • Researcher-in Residence evaluation of social prescribing implementation across Devon, University of Plymouth, commissioned by the Devon Integrated Care System,
  • Principle Investigator: STS Study of cultural adaptations to neonatal life support in rural Cambodia, University of Plymouth, 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, Peru.