PHC Research Conference, Canberra

The Primary Health Care Research Conference was held on 23rd-25th July in Canberra, Australia. The annual conference is organised by PHCRIS (Primary Health Care Research and Information Service) and could be described as the ‘Australia version of SAPC’. I was eager to attend to develop an understanding of primary care from an international perspective and liked the link between SPAC (Society for Academic Primary Care, UK) and PHCRIS. I can’t deny I was also very excited to travel to Australia!

Conference theme

The theme of the conference was ‘integrating knowledge exchange to improve primary care outcomes’. The theme was reiterated throughout the conference with key note presentations exploring how researchers can maximise the contribution of their research to improve primary health care. Plenary sessions focused on engaging policy makers, contextualising research and patient engagement. The key messages were:

  • In order to change primary health care outcomes, research should be considered a process not just a published product.
  • To facilitate knowledge exchange we need common ground and co-creation between researchers and end users.
  • Policy makers and researchers often exist in parallel universes and we need to increase connection points to enable evidence-based policy.
  • Context, i.e. beyond study setting, is often ignored in intervention studies but is important for policy makers and implementation of research. Context adds ‘noise’ and complexity but that’s important in reality.
  • Should we consider the concept of knowledge transfer networks rather than research networks?

Blue is apparently the colour of knowledge exchange and the conference theme was further reinforced by not-so-subtle slashes of blue around the conference, including blue lemonade at the welcome drinks and blue décor and fluorescent glow sticks at the conference dinner!

My presentation and award

I presented my systematic review which investigated whether, despite being defined by short-lasting symptoms, transient ischaemic attack (TIA) and minor stroke, patients experience ongoing fatigue, psychological or cognitive impairment. I was very fortunate to be awarded the AAAPC (Australian Association for Academic Primary Care) first time presenter award. It was an honour to receive the award which will be a huge asset in my research portfolio, particularly as an early career researcher.

Grace Moran AAAPC award

My conference highlights

The main highlight of the conference for me was learning the similarities and differences between UK and Australian primary health care. Primary care in Australia faces unique challenges which we don’t encounter in the UK including: healthcare in extremely remote areas (imagine your nearest big hospital is a plane journey away); health of the aboriginal people; lack of continuity between patients and GPs (Australians don’t have a set GP and can visit any GP practice). I also learnt that the UK is much further advance in structure and use of electronic medical records (EMRs). As my PhD involves the use of the THIN database (large database of EMRs), it was a great opportunity to make contacts with people doing a similar research in Australia.

Overall, the conference was very well organised and delivered a great programme of research in a relaxed and friendly environment. Visit the PHCRIS website for more information and to keep an eye out for details of next years conference: http://www.phcris.org.au/conference/2014/


Grace Moran

University of Birmingham |Gxt513@bham.ac.uk |@gracemturner

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