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The connected patient project: moving towards a population-based primary health care research registry

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Dorothy Coe, Professor Steve RobsonORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2021, The Author(s).Background: The NHS pledges to give all patients access to clinical research. In England, 32% of General Practices are research active and only 14% of patients engage in research. This project aimed to evaluate consent-for-contact and communication in primary care patients. Methods: An explanatory mixed methods study of patients and staff within a single general practice. The study included all patients over the age of 18 years, and excluded those on the palliative care register and those unable to give informed consent. The questionnaire asked recipients to indicate their preferred contact method and data-sharing permissions with three organisations: NHS, Universities and Commercial Companies. Survey recipients and staff were invited to take part in a semi-structured interview. Interviews explored project acceptability, feasibility and reasoning behind choices made. Statistical data were triangulated with interview data. Results: The target patient population was 4678, 24% (n = 1148) responded. Seven hundred and three gave permission for at least one of the organisations to contact them. Older people were more likely to respond than young people, (p < 0.001). There was a trend for more women than men to give permissions however, in the 70 years plus age group this was reversed. Short message service was the preferred method of communication (48% n = 330), but those aged 70 years and over, preferred letter (p = 0.001). Interviews suggested patients felt the project was primarily about improving communication and secondly access to research. Patients trusted the NHS and university researchers. Staff interviewees found the project was less onerous than expected. Barriers to wider rollout included workload and the fragmented nature of NHS digital systems. Conclusions: A registry of patients was established; however, the response rate of 24% needs increasing before wider adoption. Health promotion and chronic disease-based research may recruit better when based in primary health care. Older demographics would be more likely to volunteer for research. NHS and academic researchers are trusted, commercial organisations less so. The move to digitalise communication methods has the potential to marginalise older women. Findings were used to drive forward two novel developments: a consent registry (Research+Me) and a federation-wide participant identification process.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Coe D, Birt A, Forbes G, Ling J, Foster M, Robson S, McDonald J, Yiannakou Y

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: BMC Health Services Research

Year: 2021

Volume: 21

Issue: 1

Online publication date: 31/05/2021

Acceptance date: 06/05/2021

Date deposited: 17/06/2021

ISSN (electronic): 1472-6963

Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd


DOI: 10.1186/s12913-021-06486-1

PubMed id: 34059042


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