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Primary Care

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Main activities

The central aim is to improve medication-related outcomes through interventions performed by pharmacists and other members of the primary health care team. 

The quality of care in older people research programme has a focus on the nursing and residential home setting. Current projects include observational work on antibiotic prescribing, the management of pain and the role of organisational culture on medicines use in long-term care (Hughes, Tunney, Parsons).  Research is on-going on palliative and end-of life care in those with dementia, with a focus on the appropriateness of prescribing in advanced disease and evaluation of patterns of prescribing in nursing home residents with dementia as they approach end of life (Parsons and Hughes).

The pharmacoepidemiology research programme is in conjunction with colleagues from the Centre for Public Health, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences.  The current focus is on pharmacological exposures and associations with the risk and progression of cancers.  Most projects are utilising datasets from the General Practice Research Database (GPRD).  Potentially inappropriate prescribing in older people is also being assessed using nationally representative datasets from Northern Ireland and the UK (Hughes). 

Additional projects include research on pharmacy prescribing (Hughes and Parsons) and Connected Health initiatives (McElnay and Hughes).  We also contribute to the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (Hughes, Tunney, Parsons).  Key external collaborations have been established with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the University of Auckland. Funding comes from HSC R and D, Health Research Board and national charities.


Research highlights

The work undertaken in the past and currently ongoing recognises key issues facing health care policy makers, practitioners, patients and their carers.  Our work complements the changing demographics in society i.e. an ageing population, and how health care needs to respond to this through describing the challenges in terms of prescribing of medicines, and the development of interventions and services which can meet these needs.  Previous work has led to the establishment and commissioning of primary care services such as repeat dispensing in general practice and community pharmacy, and smoking cessation services provided by community pharmacists.  Research on continuing professional development (CPD) led to the development and implementation of CPD system for pharmacists in Northern Ireland.  A model of care for nursing home residents developed through collaboration with American colleagues is now being rolled out in primary care in some Trust areas in Northern Ireland. 







Areas of expertise

  • Quantitative and qualitative methodologies pertinent to health services research, including randomised controlled trials
  • Evidence-based health care (including systematic reviews)
  • Pharmacoepidemiology
  • Connected health