NSW Regional Health Partners Practice Based Primary Care Research Network for the advancement of primary health care research

What is the problem?

Currently the majority of health care delivery occurs in the community, while research is primarily undertaken in tertiary or specialist settings. With the ageing population and need to manage multimorbidity, primary care will need increasing support – to get this right requires research evidence created in Australian primary care. It is important to engage practising GPs in generating relevant research questions, facilitating research in their practices and implementing findings. Without general practice research there are no champions for research in common diseases and undifferentiated early disease presentations and we don’t know: 

  • If evidence derived in a tertiary centre generalises to care delivered in the primary care setting; 
  • Whether efficacy demonstrated in tertiary care trials equate to effectiveness in the complex real world of comorbidities and the social, economic and cultural dimensions of patient interactions with general practitioners; or
  • The research implications of continuing clinical relationships in general practice.

The deficit of research in the primary care setting is particularly pertinent for rural patients, as general practice may be the only local health care available.

About the research translation program

This project will develop a Practice Based Research Network (PBRN) in primary care. The PBRN’s primary purpose is to build the capacity of community-based clinicians to develop, undertake and implement research. The Network will be clinician-led and they will choose research priorities to work on. Successful projects will be provided with seed funding and research support from the Network office, which will employ health researchers. 

The Practice Based Research Network will contain several elements addressing various gaps in primary health research including: 

  1. Primary care research capacity building; 
  2. Implementing a common data model; and
  3. Implementing clinical trials. 

The Network will have a part time coordinator located within the NSWRHP office and two part-time academics, one located at each of the partner universities. The PBRN will be a collection of medical practices that affiliate for the purpose of conducting research focused on delivering care to the patients they serve.

What will be the impact?

It is anticipated that the PBRN will enhance the ability of rural clinicians by developing their skills in understanding and contributing to research, including their ability to partner in, and recruit to large multicentre research trials. Patients will benefit from the PBRN as they may have access to different, and potentially more effective innovations. Clinicians involved in research will also be upskilled and able to offer better care. 

For more information, contact Associate Professor Michelle Guppy at mguppy@une.edu.au