Anyone can get long-term pain from shingles

 

By Lorelei Hunt, Patient and Public Involvement Representative on the ATHENA Shingles Study, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol

Five years ago, when I felt unwell with a pain on one side of my body, I assumed I had a virus. Only after a week, when a rash appeared in the same place, did I think that I might have shingles. I was in good health and never thought shingles was something that I was at risk of. But I now know that anyone can get it.

After getting chicken pox, the virus lurks in your nervous system and can reappear as shingles without warning at any time and the risk of this increases with age. The painful, blistering rash was bad enough, but I didn’t know that shingles can have a nasty after-effect, causing a type of nerve pain called post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN for … Read more

Championing a ‘People Era’ in heart failure research

 

 

By Dr Alyson Huntley, Senior Research Fellow in Evidence Synthesis, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol

World Heart Day on 29 September 2022 aims to inform people that cardiovascular disease, including heart failure and stroke, is the world’s leading cause of death, claiming 18.6 million lives each year. It also aims to highlight the actions that individuals can take to prevent and control heart disease. Alyson Huntley describes how researchers at the Centre for Academic Primary Care are refocusing priorities to ensure that the needs of people living with heart failure are at the centre of their work.

We aim to put people with heart failure at the centre of our research. A recent collaborative project with other universities highlighted the unmet needs of people living with heart failure. The priority setting process brought clinicians, patients and families/carers together on an equal footing to … Read more

Opening opportunities for GP trainees and allied health professionals to get into research: the PACT ‘Why test?’ study

 

 

by Dr Jessica Watson, NIHR Clinical Lecturer in General Practice, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol

Have you ever found yourself looking at blood test results and wondered why the test was done in the first place?

Why Test? – It seems like a simple question. Yet despite increasing access to research databases such as Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD), which contain millions of test results, there is no easy way to find out why these tests are being performed in the first place. How many are for monitoring, screening or diagnosis? Which symptoms trigger testing? To explore this, we are launching the Why Test study using the Primary Care Academic CollaboraTive (PACT).

Currently, only a tiny proportion of primary care clinicians have a formal academic contract with a University. PACT aims to open up opportunities for non-academic primary care clinicians to get … Read more

Curiosity and imagination: building blocks on my path to research

 

 

by Alastair Hay, Professor of Primary Care, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol

I became a GP in 1997 and was appointed professor of primary care at the University of Bristol in 2013.

As a child, I was an avid Lego® player and reader of ‘how things work’ books. I was state-educated and did not enjoy school until my ‘A’ levels. I enjoyed the conceptual challenge of mathematics and, in 1985, was offered a place at Birmingham University to study maths and psychology. My results were better than I expected, so I withdrew and applied for medicine, securing a place at Sheffield.

I was initially disappointed by the course because of the lack of conceptual challenges. I was expected just to absorb lots of knowledge. Later, as I took responsibility for patient care, the application of knowledge became the interest. I did not intercalate … Read more

Is there value in GPs diagnosing an anxiety disorder?

 

 

 

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

Should we be concerned about declining continuity of primary care?

 

 

 

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

Primary care and the maintenance of abstinence in alcohol dependence: what might work?

 

 

 

 

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

The problem

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

Why does the type of moisturiser matter to a child with eczema? A research nurse’s perspective

 

 

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

Funerals in the COVID-19 pandemic – how restrictions might affect the bereaved

 

 

 

 

by Dr Alex Burrell, Foundation Year 2 doctor, North Bristol NHS Trust and Dr Lucy Selman, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol

Restrictions on funeral attendance have been put in place to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We conducted a rapid systematic review to try to understand what impact these restrictions might have on the bereaved. We found that the impact of funeral practices was not clear-cut: observational studies assessed different outcomes and their results varied. However, there were important lessons from qualitative research. What seems to be most important is helping people create a meaningful personal ritual which provides a sense of social support however they mourn, whether together in person or virtually.

COVID-19 has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths around the world, with over 45,000 confirmed deaths in the UK as of 23 July … Read more

Care homes have long been neglected – the pandemic has shown us how bad things are

 

 

by Dr Lucy Pocock, GP Career Progression Fellow, Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol

Before COVID-19, there were around 10,000 deaths in care homes in England and Wales every month. Then, between March 27 and April 24 2020, the number more than doubled to 23,113.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) later reported 17,422 deaths of care home residents from COVID-19 between the end of March and June 5, accounting for 47% of the total number of deaths caused by the virus.

So it is unsurprising that the pandemic has led to much greater interest in what happens inside care homes. As well as the significant increase in the number of residents dying, concerns have been raised about a lack of access to testing and personal protective equipment (PPE), the discharge of coronavirus-positive patients from hospital to care homes, rationalisation of the health … Read more