Multimorbidity could cause a healthcare crisis – here’s what we can do about it

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Older patients often suffer from multiple conditions.
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Chris Salisbury, University of Bristol

Multimorbidity is one of the biggest challenges facing healthcare. In recent years, a succession of research studies have shown that people with multiple health problems are more likely to have a worse quality of life, worse mental health and reduced life expectancy. The more health problems someone has, the more drugs they are likely to be prescribed and the more frequently they are likely to consult a GP or be admitted to hospital.

You might think this is all rather self-evident – it’s hardly a surprise that sick people get ill, take medicines and go to doctors more often than healthy people.

So why has multimorbidity become so prominent in discussions about healthcare over the last decade?

There has been an explosion in the number of research papers published on the the topic, numerous … Read more

Confessions of a NIHR Knowledge Mobilisation Research Fellow

by Dr Lesley Wye
Senior Research Fellow
Centre for Academic Primary Care

For 25 years, I have been a frustrated researcher. Like many, I came into the field of research to make a difference. But as the years passed, I realised that research had little influence on healthcare policy making or practice. I wanted to do something, so in 2009 I applied for a NIHR post-doctoral fellowship to skill up research teams to make a bigger impact. The feedback on my (unsuccessful) application was that researchers just had to publish in the BMJ and things would change (if only!).

Imagine my delight when a few short years later, the NIHR Knowledge Mobilisation Research Fellowship scheme was launched. Its aim was to create a “cadre of knowledge mobilisers”, proficient both in the practice and research of knowledge mobilisation (or ways of sharing knowledge). In 2014, I became one of them.

Although … Read more

Why healthcare services have a problem with gambling

Dr Sean Cowlishaw

Dr Sean Cowlishaw, Research Fellow at the Centre for Academic Primary Care

by Dr Sean Cowlishaw, University of Bristol

I have a problem with gambling. There’s not enough of it.

That was the admission from billionaire Steve Wynn, a major figure in the casino industry, speaking at a recent gambling research conference in (where else?) Las Vegas. And sure, it made for a good quote. But it’s also a rather glib dismissal of a serious issue that affects many thousands of people across the world.

The UK certainly has a problem with gambling. At least it has since 2007, when laws were changed to allow for huge growth in gambling opportunities and exposure. It has been hard to ignore the subsequent explosion in industry advertising, which increased by around 500% between 2007 and 2013. By contrast, you may have missed the increased numbers of high intensity electronic gambling … Read more

‘Researchers: To make an impact, write less and talk more!’

by Lesley Wye
Knowledge Mobilisation Fellow & Senior Research Fellow
Centre for Academic Primary Care

I have been a researcher for over two decades. In that time, lamentations about the limited influence of research evidence have grown. But I think we researchers are largely to blame. We steadfastly insist on disseminating our knowledge in ways that we know don’t work.

Researchers usually write scientific papers, because publication is a key career performance metric. But scientific papers are read and digested by other scientists, not those who can act on our findings. Our ethnographic study showed how and why research doesn’t reach policymakers, like healthcare commissioners.

We found that local healthcare commissioners cannot retrieve papers from many scientific journals, as they often do not have passwords or subscriptions. Although open access publication helps, commissioners usually use Google, where scientific papers often do not appear – even if open access. If a … Read more

Why gender can’t be ignored when dealing with domestic violence

by Gene Feder and Lucy Potter
Centre for Academic Primary Care

First published in The Conversation

Domestic violence is a violation of human rights with damaging social, economic and health consequences. It is any incident of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse. That abuse can be psychological, emotional, physical, sexual and financial.

The “domestic” element refers to abuse between people aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality. Men, women or transgender people in straight, gay or lesbian relationships can perpetrate or experience it. So does this mean domestic violence is gender neutral? Is gender irrelevant to prevention efforts and to responding to survivors’ needs? We do not think so.

Globally, direct experience of being subjected to domestic violence is greater among women then among men. In the UK, 27% of women and 13% of men … Read more

How do we support GPs providing end of life care?

by Dr Lucy SelmanDr Lucy Selman
Research Fellow (Qualitative Research in Randomised Trials)
Centre for Academic Primary Care

GPs are vital to the delivery of end of life care. They coordinate care, provide generalist palliative care, help prevent unnecessary hospital admissions, and, in England, commission local health and social care services. Crucially, they help shift care from hospitals to the community, which is where most people would prefer to die.

But providing good care at the end of life is not always straightforward. There’s evidence that GPs can find it challenging, and that the quality of end of life care by GPs can be problematic. The Royal College of General Practitioners and the House of Commons Health Committee therefore recognise the urgent need for evidence-based education in end of life care for GPs. However, the evidence base for GP training in end of life care is unclear, and no rigorous evaluations … Read more

Are some patients more equal than others? Looking back at the Cancer Drugs Fund

Padraig Dixonby Dr Padraig Dixon
Senior Research Associate
Centre for Academic Primary Care

Imagine being given £400m of taxpayers’ money to spend on drugs for the benefit of NHS cancer patients. How would you decide which therapies to fund? Would you decide that all cancer patients should benefit equally, or would you decide to spend more on particular types of cancer, or on particular types of patient?

These issues were confronted by the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF), the 2014/15 expenditures of which were £416m (against a budget of £280m). The CDF was created to make available to patients in England cancer drugs not recommended by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) on the basis of cost-effectiveness, not yet appraised by NICE or which were being used outside market authorisations.

The effects of the CDF on population health are controversial: one estimate is that the CDF has caused five … Read more

Why GPs need training about domestic violence and children

Eszter Szilassy2by Eszter Szilassy
Senior Research Associate
Centre for Academic Primary Care

While violence against men continues to fall in the UK, women affected by violence and domestic abuse are bearing the brunt of a hidden rise in violent crime. This rise coincides with the austerity-led cutting of domestic violence services.

Domestic violence and abuse (DVA) damages physical and mental health resulting in increased use of health services by survivors of abuse. The prevalence of DVA among women attending general practice is higher than in the wider population. Women experiencing DVA are more likely to be in contact with GPs than with any other professionals. Reduced investment in specialist domestic violence services further increases the demand for direct general practice responses to DVA. Although victims tend not to disclose spontaneously to their GP, they have an expectation, often unfulfilled, that doctors can be trusted with disclosure, and can offer them … Read more

Domestic violence and abuse: how should doctors and nurses respond?

Gene FederBy Gene Feder
GP and Professor of Primary Care
Centre for Academic Primary Care

Domestic violence and abuse (DVA) is a violation of human rights with long-term health consequences, from chronic pain to mental ill-health. It is a global public health challenge, requiring political and educational intervention to drive prevention, as well as a robust criminal justice response. But what is required from front line doctors and nurses, beyond the requirement to respond with clinical competence and compassion to survivors of DVA presenting with, for example, acute injuries, pelvic pain or PTSD? What are the arguments and the evidence for an extended role for clinicians, as articulated in the NICE guidelines on DVA and the WHO guidelines on intimate partner and sexual violence, requiring specific training on DVA and the resources for referral of patients experiencing DVA to specialist DVA services?

A crucial argument and evidence source, as we … Read more