Background to the project

These stories were co-authored by Professor Deborah Swinglehurst and Dr Nina Fudge, based on research conducted between 2016 and 2021 at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).

In the APOLLO-MM project (Addressing the Polypharmacy Challenge in Older People with Multimorbidity) we studied 24 people for up to two years. They were aged 65 or older and had been prescribed ten or more different items of regular medication. We interviewed these people, visited them regularly at home, and went with them to medical appointments. We also filmed some of their consultations with their doctors. In addition, we spent many hours observing and talking with health professionals in three general practices and four community pharmacies.

As part of our project, we worked closely with Dr Alison Thomson (QMUL) and members of PenPEG (Peninsula Public Engagement Group) to build this collection of stories. The characters, names and stories are fictional, but are inspired by our encounters with research participants and our findings from the APOLLO-MM study.

Acknowledgments We wish to thank the patients and staff who took part in our research, members of our Expert Advisory Group, our patient panel and public engagement panel who gave their time and expertise to make this project possible. We also wish to thank QMUL’s Royal Literary Fund Fellow, Elizabeth Cook, and members of the APOLLO social science research group who commented on earlier drafts of the stories.

Disclaimer If you are concerned about your medicines or if any of the stories in this collection raise issues that you would like to discuss further, please contact your doctor or pharmacist. Please do not make changes to prescribed medication without consulting with a health professional.

The research which inspired these fictional stories was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) through Deborah Swinglehurst’s Clinician Scientist Award CS-2015-15-004. Additionally, this research was supported by the NIHR ARC North Thames. Views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.


Research Deborah Swinglehurst, Nina Fudge & Alison Thomson Design Hyperkit Illustrations Satoshi Hashimoto