by Professor Alastair Hay, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol
This article was first published in the British Journal of General Practice.
As a teacher and researcher, I have learned that, unless my aim is clear, I will confuse myself, my students, my clinical colleagues, and my co-investigators. And yet, as a GP I often wonder, ‘Can I summarise my objective?’
The June edition of the UK’s British Journal of General Practice included articles describing an existential crisis in primary care (asking ‘What is the essence of general practice?’), a novel study describing some of the most complex work undertaken by GPs (largely invisible to most people most of the time), and other articles asking how we should deliver care post-COVID. However, the common thread for me was: ‘What is our aim?’
And why is it important to be able to explain our … Read more
by Charlotte Archer, Senior Research Associate in Primary Care Mental Health, and Katrina Turner, Professor of Primary Care Research, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol
Research has shown that fewer people in primary care are now being diagnosed with anxiety than in the past, despite reports that rates of anxiety have increased in the general population. Individuals with anxiety may be reluctant to seek help for their symptoms. They may also find it difficult to talk to their GP about their mental health or may normalise their symptoms.
Although most anxiety is managed in primary care by GPs, we know very little about whether GPs and patients think it is important to diagnose and manage anxiety disorders. Knowing this might help us identify possible reasons for the decline in their recording, and the potential impact of this on patient care and … Read more
by Dr Eszter Szilassy, Research Fellow, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol
Primary care plays a key role in responding to patients experiencing or perpetrating domestic violence and abuse regardless of their gender, age, sexuality, or experience. There is, however, uncertainty about the value and effectiveness of integrated training and support programmes addressing the needs of all patients affected by domestic abuse.
IRIS (Identification and Referral to Improve Safety) is a broadly commissioned, evidence-based primary care training and support programme designed to reach female survivors of domestic violence and abuse through general practice. The IRIS+ (Enhanced Identification and Referral to Improve Safety) study tested the feasibility of an adaptation of IRIS for all patients affected by domestic abuse, including men and children.
Reaching everyone in general practice?
Challenges to applying the IRIS domestic violence model to other patient groups have been highlighted by the … Read more
by Peter Tammes, Mairead Murphy and Chris Salisbury, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol
Decreasing trend of continuity of care
Seeing the same GP over time is highly valued by most patients and GPs in the UK. This is known as ‘continuity of care’ and it is linked with lower healthcare costs, more satisfied patients, fewer emergency hospital admissions and even with reduced mortality.
Given these multiple benefits, one would expect it to be highly prioritised. However, our recently published study in the British Journal of General Practice shows that continuity of care declined steadily between 2012 and 2017. On average, the percentage of patients who reported to have a preferred GP declined by nine percentage points and the percentage who can usually see their preferred GP declined by 10 percentage points.
Is decreasing continuity of care a concern?
Decreasing continuity is … Read more
by Dr Vincent Cheng, Senior Research Associate in Research Synthesis, Bristol Medical School and Professor David Kessler, Professor of Primary Care, Centre for Academic Primary Care and Centre for Academic Mental Health, University of Bristol
Specialist alcohol treatment services cannot cope with the growing problem of alcohol use disorder. Even before the recent COVID-19 lockdown, it was estimated that more than 80% of those in need of treatment were not receiving it. The predicted economic downturn is not likely to improve this figure. Given that primary care is universally accessible in the UK, we were interested in bringing together the evidence on what interventions could be delivered in primary care.
We conducted a systematic review and network meta-analysis of treatments (psychological, pharmacological, or both) for maintaining abstinence in recently detoxified, alcohol dependent adults that could be delivered in a community setting. … Read more
by Sophie Park, Professor of Primary Care and Medical Education, Research Department of Primary Care and Population Health, University College London, Yathavan Premadasan, BSc Medical Student, University College London and Chris Salisbury, Professor of Primary Health Care, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed primary care dramatically, with most consultations conducted remotely by telephone, video or online messaging. But is this a short-term adjustment or the future norm? In general practice, clinical care has been based on long term face-to-face contact, establishing trusting relationships through continuity of care, and using knowledge of patients’ personal circumstances and social context to provide holistic support. Now, these fundamental principles are challenged.
Matt Hancock (UK Health Secretary) has welcomed rapid changes towards digitalised clinical practice as an overdue development, stating that wherever possible, all future consultations should be conducted remotely. But is the … Read more
by Kelly Cheng, Medical Student, University of Bristol
“Cancelled due to COVID-19” – a rare opportunity to practise lifesaving pre-hospital emergency medicine skills in the French Alps was abruptly transformed into another cancellation email, as with many other glorious plans for 2020. Before I knew it, hospital placements had also been suspended until further notice. Instead, I found myself back home, huddled before my laptop, about to embark on a 6-week long student choice project working with highly-experienced academics for the first time – over Zoom, of course.
In this post, I share my experience as a third year medical student undertaking a research project alongside Dr Lorna Duncan from the Centre of Academic Primary Care (CAPC), and explore the methods we used to successfully gather primary data from all regions of England amid a national lockdown. Ironically, the chance to carry out a project focused on … Read more
By Sue Davies-Jones, Research Nurse, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Nottingham University
I have worked as a research nurse at the Centre of Evidence Based Dermatology for 13 years, working on various dermatology research projects. The Best Emollients for Eczema (BEE) study aims to answer the important question of whether some types of emollient (moisturisers) are better than others in the treatment of childhood eczema.
In an ideal world, patients would be able to sample different emollients before deciding which one they preferred, but this is not usually practical. The BEE Trial has been designed to help doctors and patients to decide which types of emollient are best to try first.
GPs are under pressure to prescribe on cost, but we don’t know whether a more watery or cheaper moisturiser is as good as a thicker or more expensive one. Helping families find the “right” moisturiser … Read more
by Chris Salisbury, Mairead Murphy and Polly Duncan, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, general practices have rapidly shifted to offering consultations remotely by telephone, video or online messaging rather than face-to-face. Many general practices are considering whether they should continue these new ways of working into the future and some commentators are arguing that general practice will be changed forever. Remote consultations could be more convenient for patients and reduce workload pressures on general practices.
Just before the COVID-19 pandemic we wrote a paper which modelled how an increasing use of online, video and telephone consultations would affect GPs’ workload. Our conclusion was that a reduction in workload should not be assumed, and remote consulting could instead lead to an increase in GP workload over time. It all depends on how remote consultations are used.
The paper … Read more
by Dr Sophie Turnbull, Senior Research Associate, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol
Digital interventions have become increasingly popular due to their potential to increase access to healthcare for people with chronic conditions and reduce the burden on a stretched healthcare system.
This has been amplified during the COVID-19 crisis, where much face-to-face support has been reduced or is no longer available. However, there are concerns that digital health provision may exacerbate existing health inequalities.
Chronic or long-term conditions, such as diabetes, are estimated to account for 87% of deaths and have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life. Even in high-income countries, people with lower socioeconomic status experience chronic illness more commonly and with greater severity than average for the rest of the population.
We also know that people with existing health conditions, in low paid or insecure work and … Read more