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OPEN study gets green light to begin recording out-of-hours health care encounters

24 April 2019

New study will explore how communication between patients and out-of-hours practitioners can influence prescribing in cases of common infections.

The OPEN (Out-Of-Hours Prescribing: Enhancing Communication) study, led by researchers from the University of Bristol's Centre for Academic Primary Care and the University of Southampton, will explore the routine management of common infections out-of-hours. The team recently received NHS ethics and Health Research Association approval to begin data collection.

With the help and permission of NHS patients and staff, they aim to record 300 routine out-of-hours health care encounters, including telephone calls, primary care centre visits and home visits, in organisations serving over two million people across the South and West of England.

The study will focus on how communication between patients and out-of-hours practitioners, such as GPs, pharmacists, nurses and paramedics, can influence prescribing in cases of common infections. The findings will be used to optimise communication training to guide healthcare practitioners in best prescribing practices.

Out-of-hours services are where patients access primary health care outside of normal working hours on week days, or any time on weekends. Not much is known about what happens during out-of-hours consultations because previous research has mostly focused on primary care consultations during normal working hours.

Dr Rebecca Barnes from the Centre for Academic Primary Care at the University of Bristol and Professor Geraldine Leydon-Hudson from the University of Southampton who are leading the study said:

“We are very excited to be working with out-of-hours service providers across the South and West of England. Our project takes a new approach in an under-researched setting and we hope to make an important contribution in the drive to reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescribing and tackle antimicrobial resistance.”

The OPEN study is a multidisciplinary collaboration between the Universities of Bristol, Southampton, Oxford and University College London funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Primary Care Research.

Watch a short video about the study.

For more information, contact:

Further information

About the Centre for Academic Primary Care
The Centre for Academic Primary Care (CAPC) at the University of Bristol is a leading centre for primary care research in the UK, one of nine forming the NIHR School for Primary Care Research. It sits within Bristol Medical School, an internationally recognised centre of excellence for population health research and teaching. Follow us on Twitter: @capcbristol.

About the National Institute for Health Research
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is the nation's largest funder of health and care research. The NIHR:

  • funds, supports and delivers high quality research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care
  • engages and involves patients, carers and the public in order to improve the reach, quality and impact of research
  • attracts, trains and supports the best researchers to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future
  • invests in world-class infrastructure and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services
  • partners with other public funders, charities and industry to maximise the value of research to patients and the economy.

The NIHR was established in 2006 to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research and is funded by the Department of Health and
Social Care. In addition to its national role, the NIHR commissions applied health research to benefit the poorest people in low- and middle-income countries, using Official Development Assistance funding.

This work uses data provided by patients and collected by the NHS as part of their care and support and would not be possible without access to this data. The NIHR recognises and values the role of patient data, securely accessed and stored, both in underpinning and leading to improvements in research and care.

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