Primary Care Research Centre

Our research

Our multi-disciplinary research is driven by patient and public involvement.

Our research reflects the breadth of primary care with a focus on some of the most important challenges facing society. These include antimicrobial resistance, supporting self-management, multiple long-term conditions and improving health services. 

We conduct applied research studies within primary healthcare, and other community settings such as pharmacies and care homes. Our methods include randomised controlled trials, observational studies, qualitative studies and studies using large healthcare and administrative data sets. We focus primarily on applied science and tend to conduct studies on the pragmatic end of the spectrum. However, some of our research includes mechanistic studies, fundamental science, and theory development. 

We have five broad themes that reflect key areas of interest:

Diagnosis and prognosis 

Work in this theme includes prospective observational studies, routine data studies, qualitative studies, diagnostic studies and randomised controlled trials that aim to improve the management of infections, asthma and COPD, mental health problems, atrial fibrillation and cancer. 

Healthcare communication 

Research in this theme aims to improve patient outcomes by optimising healthcare interactions. This includes developing tools to enhance empathy and positive messages, evaluating agenda-setting within consultations and detailed conversation analysis of video- and audio-recorded consultations to improve communication.

Improving use of medicines  

Research in this area includes providing evidence on the safe and effective use of conventional and alternative medicines for common conditions managed in primary care. Research methods employed include database and observational studies describing medicine use and associated outcomes, qualitative studies of patient and prescriber perspectives, and trials evaluating effectiveness of medicines and optimal use including deprescribing where appropriate. 

A key focus has been tackling the major public health threat of antibiotic resistance by providing evidence to support the better use of antibiotics and alternative treatments for infections. 

Supporting self-management 

Research in this theme addresses the NHS Long Term Plan’s commitment to improving supported self-management. Studies in this area cover a remarkable range of content areas, developing and testing interventions addressing: lifestyle, mental health, emotional distress, cancer-related distress and cancer survivorship, low back pain, chronic dizziness, asthma, COPD, respiratory infection, IBS, eczema, hypertension, and weight management. It builds on our close links with Psychology and international reputation for developing and evaluating digital interventions. 

Big Data in Health Group

Our groups research uses large volumes of complex, heterogeneous, multi-dimensional and often unstructured dataset from different sources. They aim to understand patterns, trends, and associations of diseases to inform preventive action.  Visit the Big Data in Health Groups site to find out more.