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Two new projects receive funding from the NIHR SPCR

2 November 2015

Two projects led by researchers at the Centre for Academic Primary Care have received funding from the NIHR School for Primary Care Research.

Exploring the barriers and facilitators to help-seeking by GPs: improving access to support
Principal investigator: Ruth Riley

Studies show that high stress and reduced well-being are common amongst doctors, including General Practitioners (GPs). Doctors, including GPs, are more likely to experience mental health symptoms, including anxiety, low mood, depression, stress and burnout. Doctors are at greater risk of suicide compared with the general population. Despite this need, evidence suggests that the NHS workforce, including doctors, have insufficient access, and face barriers, to mainstream healthcare provision. To date, little research has focused on the mental health of the NHS workforce, including doctors working in general practice. GPs’ mental health difficulties are not just problematic for the individuals concerned – they impact on the safety of patients. Additionally, when a GP is absent from work or retires early through stress and burnout, it makes the primary care system less sustainable.

“We will employ qualitative methods, using in-depth interviews, to explore the barriers and facilitators to help-seeking by GPs,” said Ruth Riley. “Undertaking this research will enable us to not only understand the barriers and facilitators to help-seeking, but also to identify solutions so that current and future doctors can access suitable care when necessary – accessing timely, good quality care and enabling doctors to return to work is crucial in ensuring the mental health needs of doctors are met.”

Deaths and hospital admissions during cold weather: derivation and validation of a tool to help primary care identify vulnerable people
Principal investigator: Richard Morris

Every year in England, more than 20,000 extra deaths occur during the months from December to March than occur in other four month periods during the year. In addition, needs for emergency hospital admissions peak during winter months. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence issued guidance in 2015 about ways to address excess winter mortality. One of the recommendations was that GPs identify patients living in ‘hard to heat’ homes, but GPs currently have neither capacity to visit everyone nor tools to identify those at highest risk.

“We want to address this second issue, to help primary care teams focus resources towards those most likely to benefit,” said Richard Morris. “We will use three datasets to investigate predictors of morbidity and mortality following cold spells, and examine primary care contacts around such events.”

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