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Appraisal of National Institute for Health and Care Research activity in primary care in England: cross-sectional study.

Family Practice 2024 Februrary 2
BACKGROUND: The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) was set up to enhance clinical and health research activity in a variety of National Health Service (NHS) healthcare settings, including primary care.

OBJECTIVE: To appraise how overall General Practitioner (GP) practice performance, location, and staffing levels may interact with NIHR Portfolio activity in primary care in England.

METHODS: Cross-sectional summary of GP practice research activity and practice descriptors; complete data from 6,171 GP practices was collated from NIHR (using data for 2013-2023 for Portfolio studies), Public Health England, Care Quality Commission, and NHS Digital sources, respectively.

RESULTS: In primary care, 1 million patients have been recruited into NIHR Portfolio studies in the last decade. The top 10% of practices-measured by different studies recruited to-contributed over 50% of that accrual. When the top decile of GP practices is compared to the 20% least active GP practices, research activity is significantly and individually linked with larger GP practices. Furthermore, it is significantly yet modestly associated with GP practice performance (positive patient feedback, Care Quality Commission rating), lower locality deprivation levels, and lower patient to GP ratios.

CONCLUSIONS: Research activity in GP practices is-as seen previously with hospitals-significantly linked with better GP practice performance and patient feedback. Practice list size and staffing levels in particular interact with the aforementioned. This should be taken into account when determining strategies to increase patient and GP practice participation in NIHR Portfolio research studies.

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