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Nigel C H Stott: pioneering academic GP who championed multidisciplinary approaches to understand and tackle complex health problems

BMJ 2023; 383 doi: (Published 06 December 2023) Cite this as: BMJ 2023;383:p2891
  1. Christopher C Butler,
  2. Ilora Finlay,
  3. Adrian G Edwards
  1. christopher.butler{at}

Nigel Stott’s academic and clinical contributions were built on the principle that improving health requires achieving a deep understanding of, and engagement with, complexity.

His formative early life experiences began in the Valley of a Thousand Hills in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Nigel’s father, Halley H Stott, founded the Valley Trust, a non-governmental organisation that understood that a curative-only health service would have little lasting impact. Seeing the intersectionality of influences on health led Nigel to be guided by systems theory and the psychosocial models of patient centred medicine. He was wary of the “dip in and dip out” merchants peddling single bullet solutions, and was always there for the long term. In all his teaching and research, he would formulate a “triple diagnosis” that dealt with the biomedical, social, and psychological-spiritual domains, and he recruited many creative people with complementary disciplinary perspectives.

Nigel transferred his undergraduate studies in engineering at the University of Cape Town to medicine in Edinburgh; it was here that he met his wife, Mary, who was a great support to Nigel, especially during his last difficult years.

Changing practice

Understanding and changing complex systems for the better clearly required a range of research methods, and …

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