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  • 1 October 2015 to 31 December 2015
  • Project No: 269
  • Funding round: FR 9

Diagnosing conditions in general practice is particularly challenging because cases of serious disease are rare and patients typically visit their GP in the very early stages of their illness, before many of the obvious signs of disease have occurred. Furthermore, diagnostic tests often do not work as well in patients at the very early stages of disease.

For a diagnostic test to be recommended for use in clinical practice, lots of information is required to determine whether it is going to be both beneficial to the patient and affordable for the NHS. However, generating information on how well a test works in patients visiting general practice is expensive and can take a long time. Consequently, much of the information for tests that GPs use is based on patients recruited from hospitals, where conditions are generally more common and more advanced. Using information from patients in hospitals rather than those visiting their GP is problematic as it may lead us to overestimate the usefulness of a test.

In 2009, researchers looked at how information on tests is being combined and a number of key problems were identified. Following this, new recommendations have been made about how to do this better. The aim of this project is to update the 2009 work and to see if the new recommendations are being used. We will also look to see:

1)    If any information has actually come from general practice;

2)    Whether there are any gaps in the information

3)    Whether routinely collected information, such as patient records, could have been used to fill these gaps

This project will help to ensure that the best tests are being used for patients in general practice.

Projects by themes

We have grouped projects under the five SPCR themes in this document

Evidence synthesis working group

The collaboration will be conducting 18 high impact systematic reviews, under four workstreams.