How do we teach clinicians to talk about the end of life?

By Dr Lucy Selman
Research Fellow (Qualitative Research in Randomised Trials)
Centre for Academic Primary Care
@Lucy_Selman

 

Image credit: Doctor and patient – Government of Alberta. Creative Commons License 2.0 (Non-commercial No Derivatives). Source: Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/governmentofalberta/21221196734

In a systematic review published this month, we identified 153 communication skills training interventions for generalists in end of life care. In randomised controlled trials, training improved showing empathy and discussing emotions in simulated interactions (i.e. with actor patients) but evidence of effect on clinician behaviours during real patient interactions, and on patient-reported outcomes, was inconclusive.

The global increase in the proportion of older people and length of life means providing end of life care is now increasingly the responsibility of generalist as well as specialist palliative care providers. But many clinicians find communicating about end of life issues challenging: how do you best discuss imminent mortality, limited treatment options, what to … Read more

Worried about asking people to take part in research? Don’t be!

by Dr Alison Gregory
Research Fellow (Traumatised and Vulnerable Populations), Senior Research Associate
Centre for Academic Primary Care
@AlisonGregory73

 

When I first became a health researcher, I felt that people would see taking part in research as a bother, a pain, or a waste of their time and that, by association, they would see me as akin to a nuisance caller, intent on coercing them into some unwanted activity. Thankfully, after 10 years doing research, it’s become apparent to me that this is far from the truth.

For a start, the tentativeness with which most of the researchers I know proceed as they recruit participants is anything but a hard-sell. In fact, due to necessarily stringent ethics and governance processes and practices, strict eligibility criteria, and a healthy dose of ‘only wanting to do what’s best for people’, we are possibly more in danger of being talked out of … Read more

Insights from the Oxford International Primary Care Research Leadership Programme

by Dr Alyson Huntley
Research Fellow
Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol
and
Dr Sarah Tonkin-Crine
Health Psychologist
Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford

Two individuals are supported by the NIHR School for Primary Care Research (NIHR SPCR) to attend the Oxford Leadership Programme every year. This year researchers Drs Alyson Huntley from the Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol and Sarah Tonkin-Crine, from the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford attended the first week of events at St Hughs’ College, Oxford.

As cohort#12 of the International Primary Care Research Leadership Programme we were lucky to stay at St Hugh’s College, Oxford during a very hot and sunny week in July. After arriving at the college on Sunday afternoon we were given our timetable and a list of our cohort members spanning the UK, Catalonia and … Read more

We need to think about treatment journeys when evaluating complex interventions

By Dr Katrina Turner
Senior Lecturer
Centre for Academic Primary Care

Most clinical trials are pragmatic in nature and aim to assess the effectiveness of a new treatment against ‘treatment as usual’. When interpreting trial results, researchers tend to focus primarily on what treatment participants in different trial arms received. This may be difficult in the usual care arm, as this arm is often poorly defined, whereas the intervention arm is often clearly defined prior to the trial starting. In addition, this focus is very narrow. Treatment is a process and patients’ experiences of accessing and receiving care could also influence their treatment outcomes, and thus the trial’s results.

A paper recently published in Trials  highlights that differences do exist between the experiences of participants randomised to usual care and intervention arms. These differences relate not only to what treatment participants receive, but also how they access and engage with … Read more

Safety-netting advice: my experience as an Academic Foundation Programme doctor

by Dr Peter Edwards
Research Associate/Academic Foundation Year 2 doctor
Centre for Academic Primary Care

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Patients can deteriorate rapidly.

I know this from working in both general practice and as a hospital doctor in A&E.

During the early stages of an illness it can be difficult for even the most experienced healthcare professionals to determine whether a patient has a minor self-limiting illness or is harbouring a more serious condition. In addition, growing problems such as antibiotic resistance and multimorbidity mean that sometimes even when a doctor makes a correct diagnosis, patients do not always get better with the first round of treatment and may require further medical help.

We cannot, and it is not clinically appropriate, to admit everyone to hospital to observe them until they feel 100% better.

That is why it is important that healthcare professionals provide patients with safety-netting advice. Safety-netting … Read more

Measuring outcomes in primary care

by Dr Mairead MurphyDr Mairead Murphy
Senior Research Associate
Centre for Academic Primary Care

With ninety percent of patient interaction with health services going through primary care, it’s not surprising that primary care clinicians and researchers try to figure out ways to improve primary care services. Interventions are many and varied, and result in important questions about their effectiveness. Do electronic consultations offer a good service to patients? If GPs introduce advice on healthy lifestyles into the consultation, does it make patients healthier? What about increasing the duration of GP appointments to ten minutes – does this improve outcomes for patients? Or ensuring that patients always see the same named doctor? Or painting the waiting room green?

Questions like these are normally answered by administration of a generic patient-reported questionnaire. By comparing the responses of groups of patients (say those with eight minute consultations and those with ten minute consultations), researchers can … 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