Intended for healthcare professionals


Primary care research networks in the United Kingdom

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 24 May 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:1093
  1. Frank Sullivan, professor of research and development in general practice and primary care1,
  2. Chris Butler, professor of primary care medicine2,
  3. Margaret Cupples, senior lecturer in general practice3,
  4. Ann-Louise Kinmonth, professor of general practice4
  1. 1Tayside Centre for General Practice, University of Dundee, Dundee DD2 4BF
  2. 2Department of Primary Care and Public Health, Cardiff University School of Medicine, Cardiff CF14 4XN
  3. 3Queen's University Belfast Department of General Practice, Belfast BT9 9HR
  4. 4Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge Forvie Site, Cambridge CB2 2SR
  1. f.m.sullivan{at}

    Frank Sullivan and colleagues describe the new bodies emerging to coordinate and boost primary care research in the four UK countries

    In British primary care, where 80% of National Health Service consultations take place, policy decisions often depend more on optimistic theory than on evidence.1 Conducting research has generally been a low priority for primary care clinicians in the United Kingdom. The ethos of independent small business in general practice tends more towards innovation than research, and scarce academic training opportunities are associated with a culture where research is not much expected, valued, or rewarded.2 Yet with leadership, resource, and good relationships between researchers and service providers, primary care research can underpin effective and efficient practice in ways that specialist perspectives alone cannot.3 4 5

    Moreover, the UK has developed primary care research infrastructures that have been enabling and influential internationally.6 7 8 Most recently, the new national health research strategy aims to “re-engineer the environment in which clinical research is conducted” through the UK Clinical Research Network (UKCRN), which involves primary care centrally (figure).9 This network is intended to offer a managed approach to …

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