Welcome to the Research Institute for Primary Care & Health Sciences Blog

This blog was created to keep healthcare professionals, researchers, methodologists, and patients up to date with the latest primary care research. For more information about the Research Institute, visit our website; keele.ac.uk/pchs

Friday, 30 November 2018

Talking research findings with the public


Written by Adele Higginbottom | www.keele.ac.uk/pchs | @PCSciences 

This year’s Research User Group Annual event took place on 9th November at Keele Hall and the theme was around “Talking to the public about research findings”.



We had around 70 delegates attending which included RUG members, invited guests, and staff members.

Krysia began the proceedings with a welcome and introduction to the day, and chaired the first session.

It was wonderful to have Professor David Amigoni present, who gave a Keynote speech on “Engaging the public in research at Keele”.  David spoke about the SEE PER project which involves all of the engagement activities in the University and how this can be rolled wider within the University to be a shared and understood resource. We heard about many different engagement studies and activities that were happening throughout the university and an interesting study was the work of CASIC which involved getting research out through creative drama. 

We were also very lucky to have a second Keynote Speaker, Maarten de Wit who had travelled from the Netherlands. Maarten has a long standing collaboration with Keele and gave a patient view for his presentation entitled “Dissemination research findings; a shared responsibility”, Maarten spoke about his involvement with a EULAR task force in developing a guide for disseminating scientific knowledge to patients and promoting knowledge transfer among patients and the important points to consider.

As ever Keele Hall did us proud with a lovely lunch, where everyone had time to chat, network and look at the table displays with information from Versus Arthritis, Diabetes UK, the Patient Information and Education Recourse Centre at the Haywood Hospital, along with RUG, LINK and PPIE information and two fabulous posters from our PhD students Isabella Troya Bermeo and Annabelle Machin.

Clare Jinks spoke briefly regarding a new request for a small project within NIHR looking at “What patient benefit means” that will help with outcomes for research bids. On each table there was a sheet of paper with “What does patient benefit mean for you” and each member filled this in with their own thoughts. All of the comments given will then be used within the study.

Carolyn Chew- Graham chaired the next session of the programme
Agnes (Adele) and Ethel (Carol) and Agnes’s husband (played by a RUG member) gave a short comedy sketch on dissemination and the language used by researchers.

The next session involved a panel of two researchers and 8 RUG members advising a new researcher who wanted to know how to have PPIE within her project and how to get her research findings out to the public. The panel all gave different accounts of how PPIE had been involved throughout the research cycle over the years, within different research projects across Primary Care. It was empowering to listen to the impact of their work, particularly their involvement in a wide range of dissemination techniques to get research results out into the community.

For the end of this session we heard from Devi Sagar who is the Research Liaison Manager for Versus Arthritis  and the title of her presentation was “Science isn’t finished until it’s communicated”  We  heard about all of the wonderful work that they are doing including  the charities commitment to funding research, to give best information and advice for people living with arthritis and also about the new campaign, which Includes the new hard hitting adverts which most people had seen and thought how thought provoking they were.
George Peat chaired the final session of the day.

Steven Blackburn ran the next session which involved round table group discussions about the communication of research findings. So asking “Where do people find out about the latest developments in healthcare and “How confident are people that this is based on research evidence?  Each table then feedback to the room and it was so interesting to hear people’s thoughts and comments.

The last presentation of the day came from Helen Duffy who really had the room thinking when she presented about Best Care for MSK pain.  Helen spoke about the NIHR Moving Forward document, which is a fantastic resource for professionals and is full of Keele based research evidence. Again we had round table discussions regarding “How do we improve the MSK pathway?” also “How do we get research used in practice” Each table feedback and again it was so interesting to hear the thoughts from each separate group.

Finally, I would like to thank all who were involved and from the feedback received it seems that everyone enjoyed and gathered a lot of information from the day.

Monday, 1 October 2018

An active iPCHS!

Written by Dr Jonathan Quicke | www.keele.ac.uk | @PCSciences

This week Dr Jonathan Quicke, one of our Academic Clinical Lecturers in Physiotherapy, reminds us why it's so important that we keep active whilst we're at work.... 



Keeping active and reducing sitting time is really important for your health, well-being, social interaction and clear thinking. Sometimes, university work can make it challenging to keep as active as we would like. Screen time, writing deadlines, meetings, and eating lunch 'al desko' all contribute to the time we spend sedentary. 

NHS physical guidelines recommend we carry out 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise each week. Moderate intensity exercise, like a brisk walk or riding a bike on the flat, makes us breathe quicker, and raises our heart rate. Vigorous exercise like jogging or football makes us breathe harder and faster...and...makes...conversation...difficult. In addition, we should be carrying out strengthening exercises twice a week and minimising the time we spend sitting. 

So what is going on at Keele to help us all in iPCHS to keep moving? 

Utilise the campus

Our beautiful campus is certainly a good tonic to encourage us to get away from our desks at lunch and enjoy walking meetings. Hands up if you have not explored Keele lake yet?

Little daily challenges like parking a bit further away from the office, or going to a photocopier on the next floor can also add up. 

There are various organised physical activity initiatives for staff and students at iPCHS. The 'well-being at work' group led by Paul Campbell (linked to Athena Swan) has run beautiful bluebell walks through our very own arboretum - thanks Sarah Harrisson for being our guide and look out for future events coming soon. 

The 'Active Lifestyle Group' is part of a wider Keele University initiative to increase the health of staff and students at Keele. Emma Healey flys the flag for us with this group and championed the recent 'fitness tracker challenge', where iPCHS went toe to toe with the psychology department. You can see which department stepped up to the plate here - well done Helen Duffy for taking the crown for most steps! 

Staff and student discounts at the gym

Staff and students get excellent discounted gym rates at the sports centre, and there are many clubs and exercise sessions to get involved with, from yoga to circuits and spinning. Take a look at their programme.

Join a 'club'


Staff and students also organise regular group activities. Steph Tooth brings all her exemplary trial manager organisational skills to the table in coordinating a large group of us who play badminton on a Thursday at 5pm at the Sports Centre - all are welcome. 

Our PhD students go for regular campus jogs whilst James Bailey is involved with Tuesday and Friday lunchtime 5-a-side football. 

Group events like these can also be a great way to meet new people from the institute and the wider university. As the institute grows, it is also important to remember 'a department who plays together, stays together!' 

So what could you do today to make your working week a little more active? 



Thursday, 28 June 2018

Inspiring innovative research within primary care

Written by Robyn Till | www.keele.ac.uk/pchs | @PCHS

The Royal College of General Practitioners (‘RCGP’) asked the Keele University’s Research Institute for Primary Care and Health Sciences to host this year’s Midlands Faculty Research Symposium. 

Delighted to take on the exciting but somewhat daunting challenge, a team of willing researchers and support staff worked hard to put together an engaging programme which hoped to inspire not only general practitioners but health care professionals, academics, and students to get involved with primary care research. 

Hosted at Keele Hall on the 17th May 2018, over 60 people from a broad range of backgrounds joined us to enjoy the glorious sunshine beaming in from across the beautiful Italian gardens, as they engaged in a truly inspirational day. 

David Fitzmaurice, Professor of General Practice at Warwick University, really set the tone for the day with his introductory keynote speech. As the first appointed academic GP, David was a great advocate to have at the event, flying the flag for research within general practice. 

David's presentation first focussed on his work on anticoagulants, showcasing his dedication to implementing his research over the years, which has led to a 10% increase each year of patients prescribed anticoagulation medication.

He wasn't shy in endorsing that it's all well and good being published somewhere like the BMJ, but the thing that really matters is ensuring that your research is implemented into practice. 

After a quick break, participants made their way to listen to the various parallel sessions, which were delivered by those whose abstracts had been shortlisted prior to the event. These sessions were a great way to hear about current research taking place in primary care across the West Midlands and gave researchers the opportunity to answer questions about their research that they may not have considered.  

The next keynote speech was presented by Professor Roger Jones, Editor of the BJGP and Emeritus Professor of General Practice at Kings College London. Roger took us through his career as a GP, an academic GP, and then through to his current role as editor. 


Roger went into detail about the state of primary care research through the ages, or rather, the absence of primary care research. It has certainly come a long way since the 1% of NHS budget invested in research and development, but it is clear that there is still a long way to go. 

In 2010, Roger moved into editing and hasn't looked back since. He advised that anyone who is not involved in peer reviewing, to certainly consider it. 

After an afternoon of more parallel sessions, the day ended on a very high note, with a keynote speech from the 'nations favourite GP', and first female chair of the RCGP, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard. 

Helen summarised the importance of general practice very eloquently, explaining that it's about the whole person, and what matters to them, not what is a matter with them - advocating the notion of 'Enid-shaped care.

It would take me quite some time to summarise everything Helen had to say, and unfortunately, we're all very busy people so I won't keep you here for much longer. Instead, I'll summarise the key takeaways from each of these keynote sessions, for anyone starting out in primary care research; 

1) Be topical. Be Realistic. Be Resilient. 

Roger explained that you need to read a lot and find something that stimulates your interest. Once you're passionate about something, you need to be realistic, so conduct a 'who cares' and 'so what' approach to your research ideas. Does it matter? Do your friends think it matters? Make sure it's worth doing because you don't want to go off on an internally driven plight. 

If you've done your reality check, and really think your research could make a difference, then be resilient and don't let people put you off.  David advised that you've got to be consistent if you believe in the idea and believe that there will be a patient benefit. Helen echoed this notion, advising that you should never underestimate your own power to make a difference and make a change - so get topical, get realistic, and stick with it. 

2) Network and Collaborate 

This really was a resounding theme throughout the whole conference. All our keynote speakers advised that meetings like this are crucial,  giving you the opportunity to pick each other's brains. You can't do an entire study by yourself, so you need to collaborate with experts and your ideas will be improved. There is more and more to learn about healthcare research, and you can only have so much in your head, so share it. 

Roger Jones gave a sound piece of advice for people starting out - contact the Academy of Medical Sciences, who have a network experienced academics to call upon. 

3) Mentorship 

Mentors can be a fountain of knowledge and information, will perhaps see where you can improve where you can often can not, be aware of which progression and development pathways with will stimulate your growth as a researcher, and offer the encouragement you may sometimes need to keep going. 

There are a number of mentorship opportunities available for primary care researchers, which should definitely be utilised. Roger did advise though, that you don't want to rush into a portfolio career before you've mastered your clinical role, because you'll always feel like you're on the back foot, and mentors are there to help you identify when its the right time to take the next step. 

After a robust Q&A session with Helen, we reached the best part; celebrating the research which had been presented throughout the day. Of course, it was only fitting to have the Chair of the RCGP to hand out awards to the top scoring poster and oral presenters. 

Charlotte Ratcliff, a ST2 GP Trainee, was awarded for 'best poster' which focussed on 'training the next generation of leaders'. Marrigje Nell, an intercalating medical student, won the prize for 'best oral presentation' entitled 'Prevalence of persistent low back pain in emerging adults: results from the 1970 British Cohort Study.' Finally, Nafiu Ishmail went on to win the 'David Morgan' prize for his presentation 'Bleeding complications post-acute coronary syndrome within the English primary care setting.'


All in all, even as a non-academic or a GP, I can honestly say that the day was truly inspiring and I left feeling rather excited about the future for primary care research. I think it would only be fitting to draw upon a lasting comment from David's keynote speech; primary care is certainly the 'lynchpin' of health care and the NHS, and research is ultimately the only way in which we will change healthcare for the better. So holding events such as this, are crucial for bringing together both the 'old and new' in order to showcase research, exchange knowledge, network, collaborate, and inspire the future generation of primary care researchers. 

To see the full programme visit the website. You can also sign up to our mailing list to ensure that you hear about next year's event.