Alison Chapple (1946-2018)

We at are saddened to announce the death of Dr Alison Chapple last Friday afternoon. Alison was a researcher working with our partners The Health Experiences Research Group at The University of Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Primary Care until her retirement in 2016. Alison completed the very first research project to appear on – Prostate Cancer – in 2001. She went on to do 10 more including our sections on bereavement. We’ve calculated that her amazing work has reached more than 6 million people. Prof. Sue Ziebland, Director of the Health Experiences Research Group, worked with Alison from 2000-2016 and has written the following obituary.

Alison (known to us as Ali) died, at home in the Cotswolds, on Friday 27th April. She was diagnosed with lung cancer (via secondary brain tumours) last summer. Her husband Ollie, three children and numerous grandchildren all arranged their lives so that they could be with her as much as possible during her last months. Ali was grateful for all the love and care she received and impressed by her GP and the staff at the Churchill whose timely palliative care meant that she was able to take a holiday in Jamaica with Ollie and friends in February. The last few weeks have been harder and I think that, in the end, she felt she had had enough.

As many of you will know Ali was the first researcher to join the DIPEx/ HealthTalk project in 2000 and was hugely instrumental in shaping its success, staying with us until she retired soon after her 70th birthday in October 2016. We all knew that we were really lucky when Ali, an established senior researcher at Manchester, applied for our initial short term research post (this happened because her husband had just bought a company in the Cotswolds and so they were moving to the area). Ali’s last projects with us included a CRUK funded cross country comparison of cancer diagnosis and the Women in Science project, funded by the VC’s Diversity fund. Ali continued to shepherd the papers through journal submission even after her retirement. She loved her work and I feel immensely privileged to have worked so closely and productively with her for 17 years.

Ali was kind, generous and a great friend as well as an inspiring, scholarly, prolific and much admired medical sociologist. As I write email tributes are coming in from colleagues and friends who recall her fondly, with the ‘greatest admiration’ and describe her as an ‘amazing, energetic, industrious and lovely person’ ‘a wonderful woman and outstanding researcher’ ‘a truly humane researcher, who wrote with clarity and a commitment to making a difference’.

We are all so sorry that she didn’t have the long and healthy retirement she might have expected and can only imagine the loss that her family must be feeling.

Sue Ziebland