Molly Gilmour

Research title: How can we strengthen emergency healthcare for forced migrants situated on the edges of Europe?

Research Summary

Lebanon hosts the largest number of refugees per capita in the world. The conflict-affected state has experienced compounding shocks impacting public health. The country is now reliant on international aid organisations. This research used participatory methods to explore new ways of delivering international medical aid with refugees and aid agency staff. The promise of participatory approaches in supporting patients and healthcare workers to understand and map experiences and perceptions of services is well documented in the ‘Global North’, yet little is known about how such approaches could improve the lives of some of the worlds most marginalised in the Levant, a region grappling with displacement due to war and the climate crisis. This research explored how participatory methods can be used to generate meaningful dialogue with healthcare professionals and patients to support health equity in Lebanon.

Methods included audiodiaries, interviews and participatory methods (entitled ‘codevelopment group’) which were conducted by an independent Syrian researcher in an MSF paediatric service. This study was conducted with Syrian refugees who access Medicine Sans Frontier (MSF) services for paediatric thalassemia and MSF staff, in collaboration with an independent Syrian researcher. Methods included audiodiaries, interviews and codevelopment groups. Research findings illustrate how this participatory research design facilitated meaningful dialogue between patients, staff and researchers and generated understandings of the healthcare needs and expectations of Syrian patients. At a time when the humanitarian aid sector is facing questions about legitimacy, funding and accountability, participatory approaches offer an essential tool for the sector to redesign services, decentre power and dismantle discrimination. Enabling refugees to play a central role in design of services can help humanitarian aid agencies to mitigate inequities perpetuated through the delivery of lifesaving medical care they offer to the worlds most marginalised.


Research Questions 

RQ1: How have humanitarian medical organisations shifted operations in response to the multiple shocks in Lebanon? 

 Sub Questions:

  • Are aid recipients/patients/service users satisfied with how aid has been prioritized? 
  • Is it ethical to transfer most of the already under-resourced capacities and priorities to Covid-19 response?  
  • Can the most essential physical and mental health needs of a multiple shock surviving population be met, if most resources are focusing on the Covid-19 response – is it even an option to disregard these needs given the multiple long-term societal consequences?

 RQ2: What are the most essential needs for patients of humanitarian medical services, and are these being met?  

 Sub Questions:

  • Who is losing out in these shifting priorities and why do we think this is?  
  • How can long-term public health goals be achieved when the MO of aid organisations is emergency provision?
  • Do emergency efforts ensure access to all services for the entire population in this protracted conflict? If not, which services are protected and why in a context where social, economic and political forces are competing in a fragmented healthcare system? 

RQ3: Can a codevelopment group be used to meaningfully engage staff and service users to collectively improve medical aid service provision in Lebanon?

Research Interests

  • Medical Sociology
  • Humanitarian Aid 
  • Participatory Research Methods
  • Humanitarian Affairs
  • Refugee Studies

Disciplines include: Anthropology; Psychosociology; Community Learning & Engagement and Sociology


Piacentini, T. et al. (Forthcoming) “How about asylum seekers who are homeless?” State designed strategies of containment during Covid-19 and anti-racist alternatives: a Glasgow case study. International Journal on Homelessness

Joy, A., Piacentini, T., Gilmour, M., & Aksu, P. (2022). Safe in Scotland: A pandemic-era alternative to institutional asylum accommodation.

Piacentini, T., Mirza, N., & Gilmour, M. (2022). Challenges of language, accessibility, and ethics when conducting digital interviews in the virtual space. In SAGE Research Methods Cases. 

Paterson, I. and Gilmour, M. (2021). Constructing the 'Hospitable Environment' Strategic Challenges, Strategic Opportunities. Project Report. University of Glasgow

UNHCR, Shelter Cluster Afghanistan and REACH. (2021). Local Architecture Review: Key findings on vernacular shelter designs, materials and local building practices in Afghanistan. Kabul: REACH Initiative.

Gilmour, M. et al. (2021). What constitutes a ‘positive’ contraceptive experience? British Medical Journal Sexual & Reproductive Health Blog

Gilmour, M. (2021). Book Review: Roberto G Gonzales, Nando Sigona, Martha C Franco and Anna Papoutsi, Undocumented Migration. British Sociological Association Network Magazine

Armstrong, S. et al. (2020). Left out and locked down: impacts of COVID-19 for marginalised groups in Scotland. Project Report. University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland

Gilmour, M. (2017). Health in our house; MSF OCA is reorganising care for its own staff. Amsterdam: Médecins Sans Frontières Ins & Outs


  • Cloughton, B Gilmour, M. Student-Led Training Fund (SLTF): Affective Reimagining: The University for Us. Scottish Graduate School of Social Science. £1,200. 10/09/2020 – 11/09/2020
  • Penney, J Gilmour, M. BSA Postgraduate Regional Event: Facilitating Holistic Wellbeing in the Research Process. British Sociological Society. £1,000. 24/01/2020
  • Gilmour, M. Travel Grant: National Centre for Competency in Research, Switzerland. £550. 20/08/2017 – 25/08/2017
  • Gilmour, M. Travel Grant. Institute of Migration and Ethnic Studies, Greece. €300. 17/01/2017 – 30/01/2017


Speaker: Irish Global Health Conference: Trinity College Dublin: 26th October 2022

Guest Lecture in Health Policy and Systems: Saint Joseph University of Beirut: 30th April 2022

Chair: Afghan Women’s Rights Series: Development Studies of Ireland: 25th October 2021

Speaker: Equitable Research Partnerships: Humanitarian Action Study Group: 8th July 2020

Speaker: University of Glasgow College of Social Science Conference: 1st November 2019

Speaker: People on the Move in an Evolving Europe: Université de Fribourg: 20th - 25th August 2017



2022 - Present: Graduate Teaching Assistant; Qualitative Research Methods: University of Glasgow; Scotland 

2019 - Present: Graduate Teaching Assistant; Sociology: University of Glasgow; Scotland 

2016: Cofounder, Open Cultural Centre; Idomeni Refugee Camp, Greece

2013 – 2014: English Teacher, Fáilte Isteach; Ireland

2011 – 2013: Coordinator, SUAS Educational Development; Ireland

2011: English Summer; Spain

Additional Information


MSc. Sociology: Migration and Ethnic Studies, University of Amsterdam

Thesis: A Review of the Linkage Act 1998: how accessible are health services for undocumented migrants in Amsterdam?

BA (Hons) Contemporary Culture and Society, Dublin City University

Dissertation: ‘Intercultural Inclusion?’ Exploring the Irish Traveller Communities’ Perception of ‘An Garda Síochána’ [Irish Police Force]


Relevant Coordination and Advisory Roles 

Editorial Board Member: Berkeley Journal of Sociology; Sept ‘22 - Present

Anthropologist and Health Promotor: Médecins Sans Frontiers; Jun ‘22 - Present

Co-convenor: DSAI Humanitarian Action Study Group; Nov ‘20 – Dec ‘21

Editorial Board Member: E-Sharp Academic Journal; Sept ‘19 – Sept ‘20

Community Hub Advisor: Simon Community; Oct ‘19 – Jan ‘20


Certificates Including:

July '20: Methods and re(design) of Fieldwork in Anthropology & STS; IT - University of Copenhagen

June '20: Health in Complex Humanitarian Emergencies; Emory University & CDC

May '20: Project Management (Level 3); Chartered Management Institute

Aug '17: People on the Move in an Evolving Europe (Migration Law); Université de Fribourg, Switzerland

Jan '17: Migration in the Margins of Europe (Anthropology); Institute of Migration and Ethnic Studies, Athens

Aug '15: Research Methodology and Design; University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

Mar '13: SUAS Global Issues Course; Dublin City University, Ireland

09-10: Journalism for the Digital Age; Dún Laoghaire Further Education Institute, Ireland



Native: English

Intermediate: Dutch, French, Arabic 

Beginner: Irish