UCL School of Pharmacy


Medicines Use and Optimisation

This cluster aims to provide new knowledge to make healthcare more efficient and sustainable by understanding and addressing the factors influencing medicines behaviour.

The development of evidence-based interventions to optimise treatment behaviours (e.g. practitioner prescribing and patient adherence) is a core aspect of our work. We consider the role of psychosocial factors in determining the physiological effects of treatment. Studies of placebo and nocebo mechanisms methods for enhancing the non-specific beneficial effects of treatments (‘placebo’ responses) and minimising the non-specific adverse effects (‘nocebo’ responses).

Research topics

Research within the cluster draws on a wide range of disciplines including health psychology epidemiology, sociology, anthropology, health economics, engineering and healthcare law and ethics. The cluster has extensive collaborations throughout UCL, particularly within the SLMS Faculty of Population Health Sciences. Through these links and a range of national and international collaborations the cluster provides new knowledge to facilitate the cost-effective use of medicines and other treatments.

Research areas include:

  • The development of evidence-based interventions to support optimal adherence and persistence to appropriately prescribed treatments for long-term conditions and infectious diseases.
  • Developing valid and reliable methods for assessing user perspectives of illness, treatment and healthcare.
  • Assessing public perceptions of medicines and how perceptions (and other factors) influence the use and effects of medicines.
  • Applying new technologies (e.g. e-communication) and interfaces (e.g. social media) to enhance patient engagement with care and to improve patient-practitioner communication.
  • Developing interventions to improve the outcomes of treatments by enhancing nonspecific positive effects (‘placebo’ responses) and reducing nonspecific negative effects (‘nocebo’ responses).
  • Understanding prescribing behaviour and developing interventions to optimise prescribing.
  • Antibiotic stewardship and developing interventions to improve antibiotic usage by understanding and optimising demand for antibiotics and prescribing behaviour.
  • Applying pharmacoepidemiologial techniques to understand patterns of prescribing and adherence, and so to identify priorities for interventions to optimise medication-related behaviour (prescribing and adherence.
  • Mind-body interactions in health and illness.


Researchers in this cluster receive funding from:

  • National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)
  • MRC
  • Welcome Trust
  • BUPA Foundation
  • Asthma UK
  • Crohn’s & Colitis UK
  • the Health Foundation


  • CASMI and work with Academy of Medical Sciences
  • CLAHRC North Thames

Current projects

This section is being developed.