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Case study: Getting started with research in Primary Care - KSS Research Support Award winner Dr Laura Clarke

The team at Brow Health Centre recently won a KSS Research Support Award under the Primary Care category for their dedication and involvement towards research in the community.

Laura, what research studies have you taken on at your site?

At Brow Medical Centre, we have taken on a number of studies. A few of these include ASYMPTOMATIC (CPMS 50134), which looks at asthma in children, and whether taking a preventer inhaler is effective everyday, or only when the child has symptoms. Petrushka (CPMS 53582), which tests a personalised approach to the pharmacological treatment of major depressive disorder in adults. INTERPRET-X (CPMS 56547), which aims to investigate how interpreting services are currently delivered/implemented in primary care. PRINCIPLE (CPMS 45457), which looks at COVID-19 treatments, evaluating low risk interventions for high risk people. Plus many more!

How do you make research work at your site?

I am new to research, so initially I tried to choose studies that don’t take up too much clinical time. These can be studies that require data searches and mailouts.

For example, Multicath Study (CPMS 20506), involved emailing a series of questionnaires to patients who use intermittent catheterisation to empty their bladder - this was a quick and easy study to get involved with. After having carried out a few of the less time-consuming studies, I enrolled in a few more studies that we could utilise our healthcare assistant and practise nurse appointments for. These smaller studies really helped us grow in confidence, so we are now exploring others that require more clinical input. We’re often limited in clinical time and capacity, however we strive to continually take on more studies.

Why do you believe research is important?

Research is so important to further the profession. It is through these studies that we find new ways of diagnosing and managing conditions which benefit patient care. It is so exciting to be a part of it. We have found that patients like to get involved and feel like they are contributing by taking part in research.

In some cases, research really does save lives. For example, the SAFER trial (CPMS 43549) identifies asymptomatic patients in the community with unknown atrial fibrillation (AF). AF affects up to 1 in 10 people over the age of 70 and about 10% of strokes happen in people unaware that they have AF. Therefore screening participants for AF as part of this trial was so vital and meant that participants could detect it and get the right treatment early.

What are your plans and ambitions for research in the future?

In the future, I hope that Brow Medical Centre can continue to grow in the research aspect of our work. We would like more colleagues to get on board and help to enrol in an increased number of studies. Working at scale with the Primary Care Network is also something that is being discussed.

What advice would you give to other practices thinking of getting involved in research?

If you’re thinking about getting involved in research, I’d encourage you to get started. You can choose a study that interests you and fits in with the model of working and skill mix in your practice.

There are numerous projects that only involve putting up a poster in the waiting area, or advertising a study to patients. Some other studies are five minute surveys that patients can take part in just to get a taste for what is involved.

I’d also say that the CRN KSS staff and staff from the studies we’ve enrolled with have always been very helpful and will support you while you find your feet with research.