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Access to information

The development of the www.healthtalkonline.org by colleagues at the University of Oxford has provided the public with information about what it’s really like to have a health condition such as breast cancer or arthritis, and much of the evidence provided about these conditions stems from research supported by the School.  The site also offers free information for health professionals.  Modules have included ‘Experiences of Antidepressant’s and ‘Conditions that threaten women's lives in childbirth and pregnancy’. www.healthtalkonline.org was listed in The Times ‘50 Top Websites You Can't Live Without’ and ranked second in their top 5 health websites.

“The methods used by HERG have set the benchmark for research into health and illness experiences” - Sir Muir Gray, Director, National Knowledge Service & NHS Chief Knowledge Officer.

The future directions of general practice

Work led by Richard Hobbs at the University of Oxford found that people in England are visiting their GP practices more often, and are having longer consultations than they were in 2007. This has resulted in a 16% rise in clinical workload. Published in the Lancet, the research suggests there are signs that the overall primary care system in England may be reaching “saturation point.” (Hobbs et al., 2016).

Domestic Violence in Primary Care

Dr Alison Gregory, University of Bristol, conducted research as part of a School doctoral fellowship and a Primary Care Scientist Launching Fellowship, which explored the impact domestic violence and abuse has on the informal supporters (friends, relatives, neighbours and colleagues) of survivors. (A. C. Gregory, 2017; A. C. Gregory, Williamson, & Feder, 2016; A. Gregory, Feder, Taket, & Williamson, 2017)

Bristol City Council, in collaboration with Avon & Somerset’s Primary Care Commission, launched a public campaign targeting informal supporters of domestic violence and abuse survivors during July and August 2015. This consisted of billboard posters, radio adverts, website and guides and Dr Gregory was commissioned to produce the guide for informal supporters based on this research. The Guides were distributed across a range of community venues in Bristol[1]. In 2016, Avon & Somerset Constabulary and Leicester City Council both used the guide as part of their regional campaigns[2][3].

North Somerset Council also used the guide as part of a regional campaign, which was released in November 2017[4], and made available on the internal websites for Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership (AWP) and North Somerset Community Partnerships. Since the release they have been inundated with requests for hard copies for health and community venues across the region including: libraries, children's centres, the hospital, midwives and drug and alcohol support services.

Dr Gregory has also written an article in SAFE (a quarterly magazine for practitioners featuring practical domestic violence initiatives, strategies and policy developments) for the leading national charity for domestic violence and abuse, Women’s Aid [5] This exposure is likely to increase interest in the guide, for use in other geographical areas.

Weight Management in Primary Care

PhD Student Charlotte Aldebury has conducted research using conversational analysis to understand how to address and explore weight management for families. Conversation analysis (CA), is the study of talk-in-interaction. This method enables researches to explore actions which are achieved with talk, and to build of an evidence base of what communication strategies work well, and not so well, in practice. This method can be used alongside quantitative data to compare conversational strategies with longer term patient behaviours, like adherence to treatment. Conversation analysis demonstrates that the way doctors recommend treatment and the words and phrases that they use, have significant implications for patient understanding and action.  Through careful attention to the details of talk, conversation analysis can identify ways to contribute to the smooth running of medical conversations. This research has now been used to inform public health England’s 'Let's talk about weight' guide[6].