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Research project

Microbiology IPD

Project overview

Resistance to antibiotics is rising and threatens future antibiotic effectiveness. As well as developing new antibiotics we need to look for ways to reduce unnecessary prescribing, whilst ensuring that patients who need them get ‘the right antibiotic at the right time’. Point-of-care tests are being developed (accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic) that will quickly allow GPs to establish if a patient has a virus, a bacteria, both or neither. This is important because antibiotics are only active against bacteria.

Before the NHS can think about using tests like these in General Practice it’s important to know if the presence of the virus/bacteria is related to the illness for which the patient is being assessed. The most robust way to do this is to look for associations with more severe/ prolonged symptoms. Previous research to answer this question has given conflicting results, and not had enough participants for us to be confident in their conclusions. Therefore, we want to combine all the research that has been done so far, meaning we have much greater numbers of participants overall. We call this approach Individual Patient Data (IPD) meta-analysis. This approach will enable us to see how long it takes for patients to recover from their illness according to whether bacteria, viruses or both have been identified, and whether any of these groups are more likely to benefit from antibiotics.

Results will help the NHS and point-of-care industry know if there is likely to be benefit in GP’s doing point-of-care tests to find out what type of infections patient have. This understanding could lead to better use of antibiotics, and help secure antibiotic effectiveness for everyone in the future.


Lead researcher

Professor Nick Francis

Head of School

Research interests

  • Infections in primary care
  • Antimicrobial stewardship
  • Respiratory infections
Other researchers

Professor Paul Little

Professor in Primary Care Research
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