Dr Mila Petrova

Research Associate at Department of Public Health & Primary Care, University of Cambridge

Research Associate, Department of Public Health and Primary Care

Dr Mila Petrova studies connection and disconnection. How people, organisations, evidence and theories connect, set boundaries, complement each other, resolve contradictions, and come together – or not. The fields vary – psychology, philosophy, health services research, end of life care, health research methodology, health information technology, and global health.

Her current studies are in end of life care. One is a realist review of palliative and end of life care interventions in the community. She is also completing the “Prepared to Share?” study, which is about sharing patient data in complex conditions, advanced and progressive disease, and/or at the end of life. She is a Steering Group member of PalCHASE (Palliative Care in Humanitarian Aid Situations and Emergencies).

Dr Petrova returned to applied health research after a PhD in the philosophy of science (with Prof. John Dupré and Prof. Susan Kelly). It explored ‘transformations of evidence’ in research synthesis studies. Such studies bring together evidence from multiple sources so as to reach more solid, trustworthy conclusions. The exemplar research synthesis method is the systematic review, which is the cornerstone of evidence based medicine. At least in theory, it should also be the cornerstone of the healthcare we receive. Understandably, we want such a cornerstone to be truly reliable. She found this not to be the case: “Bringing evidence together” is a much more complex task than it may appear at first sight. Her PhD was about this complexity and what it means for our trust in research synthesis.

As a junior pre-PhD researcher, she worked at the intersection between medicine and philosophy – on a project in Values Based Medicine, and on evaluation studies in primary care.

Dr Petrova's research interests are in:

  • evidence/ research synthesis – primarily theory-driven and conceptual syntheses;
  • global health, humanitarian and disaster relief work.
  • evaluations of complex interventions, or of interventions in complex and dynamic contexts;
  • “difficult conversations” about health and illness;
  • values and emotions in health decision making;
  • change and transformations – both personal and organisational;
  • conflict resolution;
  • veterans health;
  • psychosomatic conditions and, more broadly, interactions between mental health and physical health;
  • philosophy of medicine and philosophy of science;
  • psychotherapy, and in particular writing as a technique in psychotherapy.
Dr Petrova's qualifications are: PhD Philosophy (Exeter); Philosophy and Ethics of Mental Health MA (Warwick); Clinical and Counselling Psychology MA; Work and Organisational Psychology MA; Minor English Language and Literature; Psychology BA (Sofia University “St Kliment Ohridski”)
  • 24 April 2014, 6pm

    Behaviour and Health Research Unit Annual Lecture 2014

    The 2014 Behaviour and Health Research Unit Annual Lecture will be given by Professor Johan Mackenbach, Professor of Public Health and chair of the Department of Public Health at Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam, the Netherlands.