David Scales, MPhil, MD, PhD

David Scales, MPhil, MD, PhD is a physician, sociologist and faculty member at Cambridge Health Alliance and Harvard Medical School. David received his BA in Chemistry and American History from the University of Pennsylvania, received a scholarship to study History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine at Cambridge University then completed his MD and PhD degrees at Yale University, where his dissertation focused on the World Health Organization’s efforts to track and manage the spread of diseases across international borders. His post-doctoral work at HealthMap.org included working on BioMosaic, a Centers for Disease Control project mapping the intersection of demography, migration and infectious diseases and volunteering for SyriaTracker, a non-profit tracking human rights abuses in Syria. David completed his residency in Internal Medicine at Cambridge Health Alliance, where he currently works as a Hospitalist.

David’s clinical interests focus on providing care to the medically underserved both in the US and in the Middle East. Focusing on migrants and refugees, he works with local NGOs Questscope and the Lajee Center, in Jordan and Palestine respectively, advising them as they address structural determinants of health by promoting agency and minimizing health inequalities. With a certificate in medical interpreting in Levantine Arabic, David’s writing centers on medical communication – between healthcare providers, in the doctor-patient relationship and to the general public. He has written for Aeon, MedPage Today and is a contributor to WBUR’s CommonHealth.


Posts by David Scales, MPhil, MD, PhD

Making health social: Friends and family as part of the health care team

David Scales, MPhil, MD, PhD

Healthy choices can be hard to make, but it becomes much easier when your entire social circle helps you keep up with it. According to a recent study, engaging your friends and family in your lifestyle changes will hold you accountable, and you will be more likely to stick with those changes. Making them a regular part of your “health care team” could go a long way to maintaining your health.

Taking medications correctly requires clear communication

David Scales, MPhil, MD, PhD

Taking medications incorrectly means that patients don’t get the full benefit of the drugs and may experience unnecessary (or unnecessarily severe) side effects. The result can even cause a simple ailment to turn into a hospital stay. It’s essential that patients understand when to take their medications, and why they’re taking them in the first place. This understanding relies heavily on successful communication between patients and their doctors. Gaps, such as language barriers, can be bridged in a number of ways.

Making health decisions in the face of uncertainty: Let your values be your guide

David Scales, MPhil, MD, PhD

One of the biggest challenges for doctors and their patients is making decisions without complete certainty, so they must work together to determine the point at which the risk of further testing ceases to be acceptable. A patient’s personal values and health goals are important factors in health decisions, especially in the face of uncertainty.