Prof Kate O'Donnell
My research focuses on the organisation and delivery of primary care services, particularly for marginalised populations, and the evaluation and routinisation of primary care policy into practice. Much of my work focuses on migrant health, in particular how policy and health systems can support, or block, migrants’ access to and use of primary care services. Other work has focussed on primary prevention, in particular in relation to dementia, digital health interventions and the organisation of out-of-hours primary care. I am also interested in the application of theory to research, especially Normalisation Process Theory and candidacy, and in the integration of mixed methods in community-based research.
I work closely with primary care colleagues in a number of European countries including Ireland, the Netherlands and Greece and I am a member of the Advisory Board for the European Forum for Primary Care.
As a non-clinical Academic Primary Care researcher, I have long been involved in trying to improve the recruitment, retention and career prospects for both Primary Health Care Scientist (PHoCuS) and Clinical members of SAPC. I will continue that job throughout my time as SAPC Chair (from July 2016).
Information for mentees
Kate O'Donnell is Professor of Primary Care R&D, based in General Practice and Primary Care at the University of Glasgow.
Kate’s first degree was in Immunology and, on completion of that, she moved to London where she completed her PhD – also in Immunology. She then moved to Liverpool as a postdoctoral researcher, before finally returning to Glasgow where she continued career as an immunologist. Part of the reason for the moves around the UK was that her husband was, at that time, training to be an anaesthetist so was also pursuing jobs and a career path.
In 1993, Kate decided that bench research was not for her and began to look for an alternative. She was lucky enough to be appointed, in 1994, to the post of Co-ordinator of the West of Scotland Health Services Research Network – a post based jointly in the Departments of Public Health and General Practice, University of Glasgow, where she also completed her MPH degree. When funding for that post ceased, Kate was appointed as Lecturer in Primary Care R&D in the Department of General Practice. She has remained there since 1997, and following promotion to Senior Lecturer was appointed to a Personal Chair in 2009.
Kate’s research interests focus on the organisation and delivery of primary care services with a focus on health care for underserved populations – in particular socioeconomically deprived populations, migrant populations and asylum seekers and refugees. She also leads work on the implementation of primary care policy and in applying the theoretical constructs of candidacy and Normalisation Process Theory to primary care. All of her work utilises mixed methods approaches.
Kate is also very involved in supporting postgraduate researchers, both clinical and non-clinical. She supervises a number of PhD and MD students; is very involved in the Master of Primary Care degree in the department; and is Postgraduate Convenor for the Institute of Health & Wellbeing, responsible for overseeing the progress of around 70 PGR students. Kate has also been long involved in supporting career development for primary healthcare scientists – indeed she was voted onto the Executive of SAPC to help develop and support that work.
Kate also has two teenage daughters, both still at school and with all the interests and activities of an 18 and a 16 year old. These often involve driving to orchestras and concerts with two trombones and two girls!! Having continued to work full-time and have a family, she is well aware of the juggling and challenges of combining family and career. Kate feels she has benefited from much support over the years – it is now time to put something back.