Kieran Sweeney

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 08 February 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c733
  1. Nick Bradley

    General practitioner and scholar who challenged the dominance of scientific evidence in medicine

    Kieran Sweeney applied ideas from philosophy, the arts, mathematics, business, and social science to honour patients above their diseases. He railed at the limitations of straight line thinking in a job defined by the unintended consequence, and he saw the folly of valuing scientific knowledge above all else, when hard evidence so often turned to thin ice in his consulting room. The seductive simplicity of a P value provided no answer to what his patients actually brought in: their complicated lives, their experience of suffering, and their personal styles. “Just go and do it,” the trials demanded. “Do what, exactly, and how?” he wondered. His answer was 15 years of scholarship alongside his clinical practice, of breathtaking scale and variety. He died at home on Christmas Eve 2009, aged 58, from mesothelioma. He was in the engine room of his career.

    Sweeney was brought up in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, where his father was a general practitioner. From St Aloysius Jesuit College in Glasgow, he went …

    View Full Text

    Sign in

    Log in through your institution

    Free trial

    Register for a free trial to to receive unlimited access to all content on for 14 days.
    Sign up for a free trial