Help us identify the unintended consequences of digital health tools in primary care

 

By Dr Jeremy Horwood, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol and NIHR CLAHRC West, and Dr Andrew Turner, Senior Research Associate, NIHR CLAHRC West

Researchers from the DECODE study hosted a workshop late in 2018 to explore the unintended consequences of digital health tools used in primary care. The workshop was attended by members of the public, technology developers, GPs and key researchers in the field.

Digital health tools, such as health monitoring apps and online patient portals, are becoming commonplace, with NHS England supporting their use to improve patient access and care. But this increase in their use could lead to unintended consequences, both positive and negative. An understanding of these consequences is vital, so we can minimise the negative effects and harness the positive.

DECODE aims to improve how digital health tools are used in primary care by investigating … Read more

Much we can do and even more to learn about COPD

 

Guest blog by Dr James Dodd
Consultant Senior Lecturer
Academic Respiratory Unit, University of Bristol
and Southmead Hospital, Bristol

What is COPD?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an umbrella term which includes ‘chronic bronchitis’ and ‘emphysema’. It causes a progressive decline in lung function and health. It is common, affecting 2% of the adult population, and is projected to become the third leading cause of death in the UK. People with COPD experience breathlessness, cough and wheeze and often suffer with repeated chest infections. These ‘exacerbations’ are the second most common reason for emergency admissions to hospital.

Sadly, around two of the three million people with COPD in the UK remain undiagnosed, meaning that they live with debilitating symptoms for many years before receiving the support and advice they need. These ‘missing millions’ are the driving force behind COPD awareness month and World COPD Day.

It is … Read more

What’s normal in children’s respiratory infections? Bristol parents helped us find out

 

by Dr Emma Anderson
Senior Research Associate
Centre for Academic Primary Care

As any parent knows, children get coughs, colds and ear infections all the time. Symptoms of these respiratory infections – including runny nose, cough and sore throat – can seem never-ending.

In the EEPRIS Study, led by Professor Alastair Hay from the University of Bristol’s Centre for Academic Primary Care, we recruited parents across Bristol to tell us about their children’s respiratory symptoms as they became ill. Gathering information in the community means we are able to find out more about common respiratory illnesses than when we study those who have decided to consult their GP. It also gives us a more accurate picture of how likely parents are to consult for these common illnesses, something which has been surprisingly unclear.

Two of our main findings were that:

  • it takes up to three weeks for most
Read more

Is it possible to detect future risk of psychosis from a patient’s primary care consultation history?

 

 

By Dr Sarah Sullivan
Research Fellow
Centre for Academic Primary Care

Psychosis is a serious and long-term mental illness. Unfortunately, for many sufferers the outcomes are poor. Many may relapse again after recovery, suffer long-term residual symptoms and have poor social functioning.

Primary care is an important part of the care pathway for patients with psychosis, so GPs need to be able to accurately identify those at high risk. The task is difficult because high-risk symptoms are frequently not specific to psychosis.

We also know that the greater the delay between someone’s first psychotic symptom and receiving specialist mental health treatment is associated with poorer outcomes. GPs play an important role in this, because most people are referred to mental health services by their GP.

In a study recently published in JAMA Network Open, we set out to find out if people had previously consulted their GP … Read more

Can a programme of supervised exercise improve the quality of life of men with advanced prostate cancer?

Dr Eileen Sutton

 

by By Dr Eileen Sutton
Senior Research Associate, Qualitative Lead on the STAMINA Study
Centre for Academic Primary Care

STAMINA is a five-year study funded by the NIHR’s Programme Grants for Applied Research scheme and is led by researchers from Sheffield Hallam University, with collaborators from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, University of Leeds, University of Sheffield, Queen Mary University London, University of Bristol, University of York, Cardiff University, University of Edinburgh and Queen’s University, Belfast in partnership with Nuffield Health.

Why are we doing the research?

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK, with around 47,000 cases diagnosed each year. Androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) is a standard treatment for men with advanced prostate cancer but it is associated with significant side-effects which include fatigue, depression, sexual dysfunction, impairment of memory and concentration, increased fat mass and loss of muscle strength. ADT also increases the risk … Read more

Why it’s important to pre-test patient-reported questionnaires

Insights from testing MYMOP and PEI

Dr Mairead Murphy

 

by Dr Mairead Murphy
Senior Research Associate
Centre for Academic Primary Care

In research studies, we use patient-reported questionnaires a lot to test if healthcare interventions work or not. Given that the correct completion of these questionnaires underpins our research conclusions, it’s important to know how patients interpret them.

We decided to look more closely at how people interpreted questionnaires. We asked people who had recently visited their GP to complete two commonly-used questionnaires in primary care and tell us their thought processes as they did this. The questionnaires we chose were:

  1. The patient enablement instrument (PEI): This questionnaire has six questions, all related to how “enabled” a patient feels following a GP consultation. It asks patient to rate their improvements in coping, understanding, self-help and other aspects of “enablement”.
  2. Measure Yourself Medical Outcomes Profile (MYMOP): This questionnaire measures symptoms, daily activities
Read more

Medicines have revolutionised treatment in the NHS – can this progress be sustained?

Dr Rupert Payne

 

by Dr Rupert Payne
Consultant Senior Lecturer in Primary Health Care
Centre for Academic Primary Care

The seventieth anniversary of the NHS has made me reflect on how proud I am to have contributed to its work for over the past twenty-odd years. Founded on 5 July 1948, the service continues to this day to operate to the same three core principles – meeting the needs of everyone, free at the point of delivery, and based on clinical need.

Aside from providing comprehensive, high-quality healthcare services to virtually the entire UK population, the other thing that the NHS is known for is the constant political bickering that carries on in the background, with criticisms about chronic under-funding and stealth privatisation. However, these are not new issues, with medicines an important reason for the challenges the NHS now faces.

In a response to concerns about rising costs, perhaps the first … Read more

Can we eliminate human papilloma virus?

 

by Dr Sam Merriel
GP and Honorary Lecturer
Centre for Academic Primary Care

and

 

Dr Joanna Kesten
Senior Research Associate
NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Evaluation of Interventions

Researchers from the Centre for Academic Primary Care and Population Health Sciences, Bristol Medical School, with colleagues from Queens University Belfast, Ulster University, and Southampton University, have published an editorial in the British Journal of General Practice (BJGP) in response to Public Health England’s (PHE) recommendation to roll out a targeted Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination programme for men who have sex with men (MSM) through genitourinary medicine (GUM) and HIV clinics across England. 

The editorial argues that although this announcement is a positive step, it would be more effective to follow more recent recommendations to introduce gender neutral HPV vaccination to achieve total elimination of HPV, rather than a reduction. The PHE proposal means MSM who do Read more

Penicillin was discovered 90 years ago – and despite resistance, the future looks good for antibiotics

 

by Professor Alastair Hay
Professor of Primary Care
Centre for Academic Primary Care

When the NHS turned 70 this year, I was reminded of another anniversary which has had an enormous impact on healthcare over many years. Penicillin is 90 this year.

Discovered in September 1928 by Alexander Fleming, it was first used as a cure when George Paine treated eye infections with it in 1930. A method for mass production was devised by Howard Florey and Ernst Chain in 1940, and it was first mass produced in 1942, with half of that total supply used for one patient being treated for streptococcal septicaemia.

In 1944, 2.3m doses were produced in time for the Normandy landings of World War II. And it was then that the miracle of penicillin became clear. Soldiers who had previously died from septicaemia were surviving.

Expectations rose. If penicillin could cure septicaemia, what … Read more