Alison Thomson

Staff details

PositionPhD Student
Department Design
Email a.thomson (
Phone+44 (0)20 7919 7171

Re-doing Patient Experience through design-led research

How can design-research re-do ‘the patient experience’ considering the multiple realities Multiple Sclerosis and its ontological politics?

This research explores the various ontologies of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) at play in the outpatient clinic at The Royal London Hospital and how design-led interventions can engage and intervene in the outpatient service delivered to patients. Through following scholars in Science and Technology Studies who have argued that patients’ bodies and diseases are – in reality – ontologically multiple and performed as situated collective, I discuss the ways in which patients, as human/non-human arrangements, come into being as well as their capacities for action/inaction by way of clinic appointments, neurological examinations, patient surveys as well as being mobilized through the construction and distribution of both scientific knowledge and practices.

A core empirical part of this research is based with the Neuroimmunology Group at Queen Mary, University of London. Though engaging with the empirical settings of a hospital service and scientific conference, the research will examine how the clinic and the research process articulate MS bodies and their ontological politics. I am using performative design based experiments to explore these enactments and propose alternative service interactions. Here, I reflect on how design-led interventions engage with the political spaces articulated by MS collectives. The research hopes to expand on the potential implications for design research to study the enactments of MS and it’s political ontologies.


In 2008 I graduated from Interactive Media Design at the University of Dundee where I worked with local community in exploring the meaning of ‘human connectedness’ through design-led research. From here I went on to complete an MA in Design Interactions at the Royal College of Art where I first collaborated with Professor Gavin Giovannoni and the Neuroimmunology Group at Queen Mary, University of London.