Building the Evidence Base

Our research focuses on areas where the evidence base is unknown or weak.

Through our robust design of research programmes, we are able to move from exploring questions at a local level, to successfully applying for competitive awards for larger research studies. Such funding enables a rigorous examination of the research question, with the result that our findings are (often) adopted in national practice guidelines and quality indicators. Such iterative activity is seen across our three programmes, but a good example can be drawn from our Quality and Outcomes in Primary Healthcare (QOPH) programme.

There is longstanding evidence of inappropriate prescribing of hypnotic (sleep inducing) drugs in primary care. However, advice to general practitioners had always failed to highlight any alternatives to drugs or to provide appropriate implementation strategies. Our systematic reviews and meta-analyses (Siriwardena et al 2006, 2008), enabled us to identify the existing evidence and those barriers to implementation of best-practice. Building on this, the ENACT study ensured we could appropriately explore patients’ and clinicians needs and wants around cognitive behavioural therapy, as opposed to simple (and sometimes damaging) prescribing. The outcome from this work was the development of an e-learning package for clinicians.

By raising public awareness of insomnia across the media, including a national documentary, we found there was national and international take-up of our e-learning package – more than 2,000 unique visitors from 70 countries across all five continents. Our guidelines and recommendations developed from the work across QOPH were adopted by the National Prescribing Centre.

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