Do you want to do research? Is this because there is a question to which you want an answer? It might be a small project in your own practice. Increasingly, however, research projects are multicentre, involving a large number of patients, investigators and practices. Research can provide interest, academic stimulation, a diversity of work, personal and practice development and a sense of achievement.
If you are acting as an investigator in a multicentre study then the study organisers should provide training. A national body or the pharmaceutical industry usually funds major studies. Starting with a small role is a way of learning more and ‘testing out the water’ for you and your practice.
If you want to carry out any research in your practice do discuss this with partners, practice nurses and managers. Take advice from local research groups and members of an ethics committee. There will be time, financial and ethical issues, which need to be considered.
The main resources for Primary Care research are:
- The Primary Care Research Network (PCRN) provides local research networks. These networks can provide you with advice, information, and training on how to conduct research. Many of the skills are generic and transferable between specialities - statistics would be a good example
- Ideally if you want Primary Care and dermatological expertise for any study the UK Dermatology Clinical Trials Network (UK DCTN) provides a collaborative network for those interested in dermatological research
- The Society for Academic Primary Care Dermatology Research Specialist Interest Group are a very active, multi-disciplinary group of researchers, working to address some of the fundamental questions about the skin conditions commonly seen and treated in Primary Care
Other useful resources include:
- Your nearest academic department of dermatology
- The Centre of Evidence Based Dermatology conducts independent research into the treatment and prevention of skin disease. The group works with patients and members of the public to prioritise and inform its clinically-relevant research programmes
- The Cochrane Skin Group is part of a larger international endeavour, the Cochrane Collaboration, with the aim of preparing, maintaining and promoting the accessibility of systematic reviews of the effects of health care interventions
- The British Skin Foundation is a UK charity, which donates money to high-quality research projects in skin disease
Tips regarding research:
- Keep it simple
- Only do studies that interest you
- Have others in your team on board with you
- Get as much advice as you can before you start
- If you guesstimate any time commitment - double it!
- Only do those studies that that you think will be of benefit to your patients
- Ask you’re nearest and dearest (eg husband/wife/dog), if you have one, before contemplating undertaking your own study, otherwise you may not have one at the end!
Dr Tom Poyner