Research Activity and Quality Indicators in Primary Care – Is there a correlation?

Talk Code: 
Helen Riding
Dr Shona Haining
Author institutions: 
Newcastle University, NHS North of England Commissioning Support (NECS)


There have been a number of studies exploring research activity and hospital based academic output of NHS Trusts in England. These studies show inconclusive evidence that research activity directly affects quality outcomes for patients. A more recent study identified a positive association between the engagement of health professionals in research and healthcare performance, the authors noted that more research is needed especially in the different organisational settings that research activity occurs in, such as primary careHowever there is no such evidence for primary care, despite 90% of patient contact occurring in primary care, only a 42% of General Practices (GPs) take part in research with the majority of research taking place in hospitals. NHS quality indicators have been developed to measure the performance of GP Practices, such as the Quality and Outcomes Framework, Care Quality Commission ratings and the Public Health England National GP ProfilesThe aim of this study is therefore exploring the link between research activity and quality indicators in primary care.


This was achieved semi-structured interviews GP staff views of quality indicators in English primary care. Six to twelve GPs and Practice Managers were interviewed.The objectives being:(1) to explore practice staff views of the use and effectiveness and relevance of quality indicators in primary care in relation to research;(2) if the engagement of GPs in research improves quality outcomes and performance;(3) practice staff motivation for taking part in primary care research.There may be unrelated organisational, managerial or administrative reasons that certain GPs do not take part in research and they may contribute to quality improvement in alternative ways. They may be providing academic support in a different way, such as providing teaching for GP trainees. However, we are concerned with the interplay between research and patients outcomes in primary care, and this correlation is currently unclear.


This is a small exploratory study contributing to a Master of Clinical Research qualification for the researcher. This potentially could lead to a larger mixed methods study analysing and correlating quantitative data quality indicators with research activity to inform if research can be a quality indicator for practices and patients. The data collection is currently ongoing due to be complete by June 2017.


Research is essential in the development of improved treatments and patient outcomes in the National Health Service (NHS). It is suggested that staff who contribute and participate in research studies, tend to have a greater understanding, and use, of current evidence and guidelines. This could result in improved quality of care for patients, but this link is currently unclear.

Submitted by: 
Helen Riding
Funding acknowledgement: