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Professor Anne MacFarlane

Optimising medical and psychosocial primary care for migrants in Europe

Restore Project Team

Professor Anne MacFarlane is the coordinator of an FP7 funded project called RESTORE, http://www.fp7restore.eu/. This project focuses on the involvement of migrants and other stakeholders in the implementation of guidelines and/or training initiatives to support communication in cross-cultural consultations.

Anne got her first funding award when she held a Health Research Board, Health Services Research Fellowship in the Department of General Practice, NUI Galway (2002-2004) after returning to Ireland having worked as a research fellow in University College London. With this funding Anne has led a programme of research about user involvement in primary care research and service development. This research has developed in partnership with the Centre for Participatory Strategies, Galway (an independent research and training organisation) and in collaboration with the HSE Social Inclusion Unit and the Office of Consumer Affairs and is supported by Anne's participation in an international study group about Normalisation Process Theory (led by Prof Carl May, University of Southampton).

Anne also has had funding from the EU Northern Periphery Programme (2007-2010) and is Principal Investigator in two further funding schemes from the Health Research Board, a Partnership award in 2009 and a Health Research award in 2010.

When Anne was awarded funding for the RESTORE project in 2010, she was a lecturer in Primary Care in the Discipline of General Practice, School of Medicine at NUI Galway. Anne has recently moved to the University of Limerick where she is now Professor of Primary Healthcare Research at the Graduate Entry Medical School. The University of Limerick is due to become a partner in the consortium shortly due to Anne's move.

The RESTORE project which began in April 2011 is funded for four years and the consortium consists of 7 participating European institutions, including two from Ireland, and is worth over €2.9 million. The Project spans sociology, cultural anthropology, general practice, healthcare policy and implementation science. The kick off meeting was held in Glasgow and the consortium has just had a successful week long residential training programme with the partners meeting in Galway.

The project aims to explore how cultural and language barriers experienced by migrants in host countries can be overcome by general practitioners and primary care staff in cross-cultural consultations and, concurrently how available resources can be used efficiently in health systems across Europe. Primary care service users and their general practitioners face significant challenges on a daily basis in their consultations because they do not have a shared language or cultural background which results in frequent misunderstanding and communication breakdowns which is distressing and frustrating. The research focuses on the implementation of evidence-based health information (e.g. guidelines to enhance communication in cross-cultural consultations) and interventions (e.g. training initiatives on interculturalism and the use of paid interpreters) designed to address language and cultural barriers in primary care settings. The consortium will explore how these are translated (or not) into routine practice in primary care settings. They will investigate and support the implementation processes for these using a unique combination of contemporary social theory, the Normalisation Process Theory and a participatory research methodology.

The funding application was led by the Discipline of General Practice, NUI Galway. It was developed with existing, local collaborators from the Centre for Participatory Strategies, Galway and international colleagues in universities in Glasgow, Liverpool, Nijmegen, Vienna and Crete which have different patterns of migration and a range of experiences of intercultural health policy and service development.

During preparation of the proposal Anne was supported by the NCPs in the HRB and Enterprise Ireland and feels that this support 'was really vital to our success because we got speedy responses and expert guidance on a range of practical issues relating to the application process and the budget. We also received important feedback on the developing proposal'. The NCPs are continuing to assist Anne with the inclusion of the University of Limerick as a partner in the consortium.

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