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SPCR researchers and trainees from across the eight departments presented their work at the Society for Academic Primary Care Annual Scientific Meeting this year.

Helen Atherton, University of Oxford, received the RCGP Yvonne Carter Award at the conference and presented a synopsis of her doctoral study entitled: 'Evidence, experiences and the future: Email for consulting with patients in general practice.'

It was wonderful to see SPCR have such a strong presence at this national conference with representation from trainees and fellows and across all 8 institutions.  We were especially pleased however to see SPCR postdoctoral research fellow Dr. Helen Atherton pick up the well-deserved Yvonne Cartier award that will help build on exciting work on using email for consulting with patients in primary care - Lily Lai, University of Southampton

She wrote: "I was delighted to receive the award, especially given the strong competition. Giving the presentation was an excellent platform for my work. I hope to be able to come back  to the SAPC conference in future and present the findings of my research work in Denmark on use of email consultation, which I will use the award to fund.

I gave a brief overview of my work so far, it started with a definition of email consultation, followed by some examples of practices that are using it. I summarised the current policy situation; the Government wants GPs to offer email for consultation as compulsory by 2015. This is despite a limited and poor quality evidence base. I presented three pieces of research, two published: a Cochrane systematic review of email for two-way clinical communication between healthcare professionals, and an interview study, ‘Experiences of using email for general practice consultations: a qualitative study.’ I shared findings from a study that is yet to be published, which is a secondary analysis of European wide survey data. Findings of this study indicate that whilst users of email for healthcare purposes tend to be younger and more educated in line with the classic ‘digital divide’ profile, they are also sicker and require more contacts with a healthcare professional, which contradicts the notion that using new methods of consultation (e.g. email) will lead to more contacts from the worried well. It provides interesting avenues for further research in the use of email for those with multiple conditions. The presentation finished with a summary of what are the important factors for future research, these include further investigation of workload concerns, ensuring safe use via guidance and protocols, exploration of the role for email consultation in patients with multimorbidity and further exploration of the digital divide." 

Lily Lai, University of Southampton, wrote:
"The Society for Academic Primary Care annual conference was hosted by the University of Edinburgh this year.  With a theme of ‘Meeting Global Challenges’, it proved suitably appropriate that the conference featured three internationally-renowned keynote speakers which stimulated much lively academic debate throughout the conference amongst academic GPs and primary care researchers alike!         

Unique to this year’s conference was the first inaugural Helen Lester Memorial Lecture delivered by Professor Debbie Sharp on ‘Motherhood and Mental Illness – thirty years of families in South London’.   This provided a much-needed opportunity to reflect on the impact of mental illness in women of childbearing age and highlighted the importance of proactively identifying and addressing this important issue in primary care.

All in all, an inspirational three days of sharing ideas and stimulating debate with like-minded academics in primary care and we are all very much looking forward to more of the same at next year’s SAPC which will be hosted by the University of Oxford."

And, Abigail Methley from the University of Manchester has written a blog 'Primary Care: Meeting global challenges' which can be viewed on the new SPCR blog:

SPCR research presented can be found here.

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