After qualifying in Cambridge and Oxford, Louisa trained in Edinburgh before becoming a GP in Essex. She was a partner in her practice for over 30 years, establishing GP training and teaching Cambridge undergraduates, for whom she ran practice placements, led seminars and was involved in examining.
She began a sociology PhD at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 2011, using qualitative methods to explore the way people understand and decide about preventive medication such as statins. Studying part-time while working as senior partner in the practice, she submitted her thesis in 2017, and was joint winner of that year’s Jerry Morris prize for outstanding research.
Louisa joined the PELiCam group in order to pursue research questions rooted both in her clinical experience of delivering palliative and end-of-life care as a GP, and in her interest in Advance Care Planning as a special case of shared decision-making. She has worked with colleagues to write a paper using qualitative data about end-of-life care in the community, and to think about ways in which Advance Care Planning needs to be reconceptualized. Her own plans for new research are on hold during the pandemic, so in the meantime she will continue to support other team members who have ongoing projects or unused data.
Polak L, Green J. Using Joint Interviews to Add Analytic Value. Qualitative Health Research. 2016;26(12):1638-48.
Polak L, Green J. Using quantitative risk information in decisions about statins: a qualitative study in a community setting. British Journal of General Practice. 2015;65(633):e264-e9.
Polak L. Current conditions or future risks: certainty and uncertainty in decisions about statins. Health, Risk & Society. 2016;18(3-4):153-67.
Polak L. What is wrong with ‘being a pill-taker’? The special case of statins. Sociology of Health and Illness. 2017;39(4):599–613.
Polak, L. and J. Green (2020). “Rethinking decision-making in the context of preventive medication: How taking statins becomes “the right thing to do”.” Social Science & Medicine 247: 112797.
Hopkins, S., Lovick R, Polak L, Bowers B, Morgan T, Kelly, M., Barclay, S. Reassessing advance care planning in the light of covid-19 BMJ 2020; 369 :m1927
Polak, L., Hopkins, S., Barclay, S., Hoare, S. (2020). “The difference an end-of-life diagnosis makes: qualitative interviews with providers of community health care for frail older people.” British Journal of General Practice: bjgp20X712805.
Carmona C, Crutwell J, Burnham M, Polak L. Shared decision-making: summary of NICE guidance BMJ 2021; 373 :n1430 doi:10.1136/bmj.n1430
Antunes B, Bowers B, Barclay B, Gallagher J, Conci R, Polak L . Changes to community-based anticipatory prescribing during the Covid-19 pandemic: a qualitative study of healthcare professionals’ experiences. BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care 2022 [forthcoming]
“Palliative care in dementia: referring to ‘end of life’ is unnecessary” – the BMJ https://www.bmj.com/content/bmj/381/bmj.p1262.full.pdf
“We need to redefine ‘full time’ and ‘a session’” – British Journal of General Practice https://bjgp.org/content/bjgp/73/732/299.3.full.pdf