Picture of Lynsey Brown

Lynsey Brown

Dr Lynsey Brown and Dr Christina Hagger are conference conveners for this year’s Primary Health Care Research conference in Australia


Picture of Christina Hagger

Christina Hagger

High quality primary health care (PHC) research is a powerful community resource. Strengthened and contextualised with insights and expertise from policy makers, practitioners and consumers, it informs improvements in the frontline of the health system.

Question: How to increase that power? How can we better routinely inform, access and utilise quality research?

One Answer: Bring research users and researchers face-to-face for deliberative dialogue, debate and discussion. After all, we know that we can only really make a difference when people work with people to share real-world,  as well as research,  knowledge and skills.

While such linkage and exchange logic is sound, the practice can be more elusive. We know that effective, cross-sector collaboration between research users and research producers can be difficult to achieve. Organisational and professional cultures are not always geared to support, let alone reward, the time-consuming professional relationship building that is the essence of successful collaborations.

People search for a knowledge exchange opportunity.

In Australia, one such opportunity is the national PHC Research Conference. The conference is convened by the Primary Health Care Research & Information Service (PHCRIS), an Australian government funded organisation which helps people to find information, share knowledge, build capacity and exchange ideas about PHC. The conference, convened by PHCRIS since 1995, is tailored as a national knowledge exchange opportunity for people working across the PHC frontline. In contrast to many traditional research conferences, the experienced PHCRIS conference team work closely with policy makers and other stakeholders to deliver an innovative, dynamic, and highly interactive conference with a strong focus on knowledge exchange. The programme is centred on the latest peer-reviewed research, news and trends; blended with skill building workshops; all interwoven with a dynamic social programme to enhance networking.

This year there will be over 300 delegates who will contribute research as well as practice, policy, management and consumer/community perspectives. As usual, there is a strong representation from repeat delegates who value the conference as the place, and time, to stay current with the latest in PHC. They appreciate the interactive nature of the conference and the diverse opportunities it offers to meet new colleagues, build relationships, bridge professional silos and foster productive collaborative networks.

The theme this year is dedicated to innovation and reform in PHC. The programme encourages engagement and exchange with people working in Australian primary health care organisations (e.g., Primary Health Networks), industry and the private sector. This is designed to contribute fresh thinking and develop cross-sectoral ideas across the wider health system.

Conference highlights include a plenary session delivered by senior Australian private health insurance fund executives on the topic Why primary health care matters to private health insurance. As another plenary highlight, Dr Cassandra Goldie, CEO of the Australian Council of Social Services will contribute her public policy insights from outside the health sector to broaden and stimulate research thinking. She will discuss how we can best utilise, and value, the capacity of the public/community to influence change (see the speakers page for details).

A suite of invited symposia will deliver a strong emphasis on commissioning, harnessing allied health in the primary care system as well as navigating research funding models.

As usual with the conference, there is a strong focus on doctoral students and early career researchers, our future research leaders. Capacity building workshops include knowledge exchange insights for postgraduate students that features the importance of developing a mindset to view their research as a community resource. Importantly, there is also an associated workshop for PhD supervisors on the value of knowledge exchange in a contemporary PhD to prepare their students for careers in academia or industry.

A Knowledge Exchange (KE), Research Translation (RT) and Implementation (I) [KERTI] workshop will explore ways to systematically enhance education and training (in the short, medium and long term) to assist researchers and research users to develop the understanding, as well as skills, they need to work more effectively and efficiently together.

The full programme will feature presentations, both oral and poster, that inspire innovative ways of thinking to make a difference to PHC practice, policy and health outcomes into the future. Be sure to visit the PHCRIS website in the coming weeks for access to all the presentations delivered at the conference.

Can’t be in the room? Join the conversations on Facebook and Twitter, follow #phcr16 to be part of the action.

Wish you were here…