What sort of research would we be doing if medical research were crowdfunded? Sarah Knowles from Manchster believes that too much research money is wasted on studies that don’t deliver. Some don’t even manage to recruit the desired number of participants. Many funded research studies aren’t studying a question that is of importance to patient stakeholders. Sarah, a researcher in primary care mental health (“We compete with disability research for who gets the least funding!”) strongly advocates for crowdfunding of research. Think Kickstarter. She says it’s the way to ensure public engagement and patient voice in medical research; she points out that whenever she mentions it to other researchers they usually balk. She thinks this probably has to do with fear that we don’t possess adequate ability to communicate why our research is important and to make a compelling case for funding.
Sarah was the last of a panel of speakers at a session on day 2 of #sapcasm entitled “Dangerous Ideas”. The session was modeled on the reality show Dragons’ Den. Speakers pitched their ideas at the audience for five minutes and then the audience had five minutes to throw questions and comments at the speakers (to which they could respond).
All the problems started with Descartes, who conceptualised the mind-body separation, described as the Cartesian model, began Rona Moss-Morris in her plenary talk.
She continued by explaining that, while we ought to focus more squarely on the bio-psycho-social, Medicine has not yet fully embraced this model. In general practice, however, we cannot explain everything using the biological model alone. There is often a mismatch between clinical signs, objective tests and the health of the patient.
Clinicians have always recognised the concept of medically unexplained symptoms (MUS), particularly in primary care ...continue reading →
It’s that time of year again when primary care academics take time away from their desks and surgeries and families to attend the Society for Academic Primary Care conference. This year, in Oxford, with a walking tour of the Botanical Gardens and dinner in the gothic splendor of Keble College Dining Hall on the programme, some of you may have faced the question I was forced to consider after an intense grilling from my son, 'what are conferences for'? ...continue reading →
Measuring research impact fascinates academics and editors alike. We are all searching for the optimum metric to reflect research quality. Most of us are familiar with impact factors, citations and other individual measures like the h-index. But, what if your academic esteem and departmental funding depended on external assessment? In a mini symposium at the Society of Primary Care meeting in Oxford, entitled “ How can research impact be measured?” Professor Paul Little told us about the Research Excellence Framework (REF) in the UK which is set up to measure the value of research in a national and international context on behalf of the Higher Education Funding Council.
The REF has gone through a number of iterations but the key factor on this occasion, was that while output remains the dominant influence, “impact” was the new driver. ...continue reading →
Rona Moss-Morris is Professor of Psychology as Applied to Medicine at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, UK. She is a keynote speaker at this year's SAPC conference in Oxford.
I am delighted to be presenting a keynote talk to the upcoming SAPC conference on a topic very dear to my heart. My interests in this area began as long ago as 1988 when I moved from South Africa to take up a post in a small East Coast town in New Zealand. One of the first patients referred to me, let’s call him Mr X, had a mysterious illness called Tapanui Flue. A previous high level athlete and school teacher, he was experiencing overwhelming and disabling fatigue. So there I was, new kid on the block in a strange country, faced with a condition I had never heard off and a very distressed patient. Still to this day I regret the fact that I wasn’t much help to Mr X. ...continue reading →
Amanda Howe is Professor of Primary Care at the University of East Anglia in Norwich - one of the newer medical schools in the U.K. She is also a GP, Vice Chair of Council at the RCGP, and President-Elect of the World Organization of Family Doctors. She writes here in a personal capacity.
When I starting out as a junior researcher, the big fight was to get primary care research into the universities and the big national and charitable funding streams. The first professor of general practice took up post in 1962, and by 1992 when I became a lecturer, most medical schools had a department of general practice (‘family medicine’ in other countries). But all my seniors still talked as if they were fighting an uphill battle – treated as a minority group, outsiders, less powerful, less well funded, and with a tide to turn against the biomedical ‘lab to bedside’ paradigm.
20+ years on, I am not sure whether that victim voice still needs to be heard. There are some amazing big research units now in U.K. – the School of Primary Care’s member departments all punching above their weight, far more applied funding going into primary care and epidemiological work via the National Institute for Health Research, and medical schools being complemented by nursing and allied health units with excellent track records of their own research.
But some medical schools have put their GP teachers into medical education departments, and made their GP researchers a small part of a ‘big’ health services research unit. And others try to establish a research profile and national/international impact with fewer than 2 full-time academic GPs (my own unit). My ‘Primary Care Group’ also contains brilliant bright colleagues from public health, health economics, sociology and ethics – and the university sees this as a good mixture for applied methods research - but it is not much capacity for clinical work, research, teaching, and academic leadership.