CaHRU/LIH seminar: Scoping reviews – Viet-Hai Phung

The latest CaHRU/LIH Improvement Science and Research Methods seminar was on scoping reviews, delivered on 28th February 2017 by Viet-Hai Phung, Research Assistant at CaHRU. Viet-Hai began the seminar by stating the aims of scoping reviews: to “map rapidly the key concepts underpinning a research area and the main sources and types of evidence available, and can be undertaken as stand-alone projects in their own right, especially where an area is complex or has not been reviewed comprehensively before” (Mays et al., 2001: 194).Viet Hai Scoping Reviews

Viet-Hai who is currently conducting a scoping review as the first phase of his PhD, explained that he is doing this because the extent of knowledge on the evidence relating to his research area in ‘healthcare experiences of migrants in Europe’ is limited. Secondly, the scoping review will help to establish themes or research questions for further exploration using appropriate research methods.

He went on to outline the features and steps to conducting a scoping review and took time to explain each in detail, placing emphasis on the need to have a well-defined search strategy for capturing all potentially relevant studies. He also recommended the use of EndNote and Excel for managing the studies or data generated from the search, which can facilitate the identification and inclusion or exclusion of studies from the review. Constructing a flow diagram can also help in presenting a summary of the study identification process.

vhp2For the synthesis of the data generated, Viet-Hai suggested that reviewers may summarise each of the included studies according to relevant headings: population, methods, results etc, and thematically summarise the evidence from the review using a narrative, reflective approach.

He concluded the session by highlighting a number of caveats which should be noted when planning to conduct a scoping review. He said, for example, that some search terms may need to be adapted or modified for different databases, and that only a limited number of publications can be imported to Endnote at a time. In addition, many publications have copyright statements that need to be removed in Excel, and that data extraction can be time consuming.

By Joseph Akanuwe

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Improving healthcare commissioning for probation: mapping the landscape

Healthcare services available to probationers and how they access them will be examined as part of a new research project.

The project, funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Research for Patient Benefit Programme aims to produce a toolkit which will help commissioners and staff delivering health services to effectively measure and improve the quality of probationers’ healthcare.

Researchers say better healthcare could help increase the number of people successfully completing community sentences and could potentially reduce the rate of recidivism, while also saving the NHS substantial sums of money by reducing the unnecessary use of urgent and emergency services.

The research, led by the University of Lincoln (Dr Coral Sirdifield, Professor Niro Siriwardena) with colleagues from Royal Holloway, University of London (Professor David Denney, Professor Charlie Brooker), will address three key areas: the best way of providing healthcare to achieve good health outcomes for probationers; how healthcare is currently delivered to probationers, for example by probation services, through local partnerships, or through clinical commissioning groups; and what data are already available that could be used to measure and improve probationers’ health and the quality of their healthcare.

The team of researchers will carry out a literature review of the existing studies, conduct national surveys, examine written policy and procedure documents, and conduct telephone interviews with senior members of probation and health services.

Lead investigator, Dr Coral Sirdifield from the University of Lincoln’s School of Health and Social Care, said: “There are more than 200,000 offenders on probation in the UK, and they are often deprived, vulnerable and have complex health needs such as mental health, drug and alcohol problems compared with the general population.

probation wordcloud“Many probationers are not registered with a GP, or only access healthcare during crises. To reduce health inequalities, we first need to understand how healthcare is provided to probationers, and how its quality can be measured and improved.

“This is important because providing better, evidence-based healthcare will improve probationers’ health, increase their chances of completing probation, and could potentially reduce their risk of reoffending. There are potential cost savings to the NHS by reducing the unnecessary use of urgent and emergency services.”

The grant bid was put together following consultation with probation workers and service users to ensure the research would tackle relevant issues. Those probation workers and the service users will be on the project steering group and will help develop information resources, carry out interviews, and share the findings of the study. The funding is just under £150,000.

The findings will be shared with all participants, relevant organisations and policy makers as a toolkit, and submitted to relevant journals for publication.

Details on the research as it progresses will be uploaded to the Community and Health Research Unit at the University of Lincoln. Visit for more.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is funded by the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. The NIHR is the research arm of the NHS. Since its establishment in April 2006, the NIHR has transformed research in the NHS. It has increased the volume of applied health research for the benefit of patients and the public, driven faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy, and developed and supported the people who conduct and contribute to applied health research. The NIHR plays a key role in the Government’s strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research. Together, the NIHR people, programmes, centres of excellence and systems represent the most integrated health research system in the world. For further information, visit the NIHR website (

CaHRU/LIH seminar: Consensus methods – Dr Paul Leighton

WP_20170124_11_59_23_RichThe latest CaHRU/LIH Improvement Science and Research Methods seminar was given on 24th January 2017 by Dr. Paul Leighton, Deputy Director at the NIHR Research Design Service for the East Midlands. Paul’s talk, entitled ‘The Delphi technique and other methods of consensus development in applied health settings’, focussed on useful tools for achieving consensus among experts.

WP_20170124_12_05_46_RichPaul began the seminar with an overview of the background of consensus methods and gave examples of how such techniques have been used in the past. He then presented the three most commonly used approaches to reaching consensus: the Delphi technique, the nominal group technique, and the consensus conference. He explained the different techniques, discussed issues around using them and conducting consensus events, and finished by comparing the three methods.

Paul also offered guidance on when it is best to use each technique; this covered when it was appropriate to use a particular method, choosing the correct number and most suitable members/experts for panels, agreeing on the threshold for consensus, and the proper reporting standards. At the end of the seminar, Paul reminded everyone that the key enemy of consensus methods is always dropout rates!

The seminar was very well received and raised some very important issues around consensus methods. The next Improvement Science and Research Methods seminar will be presented by Viet-Hai Phung, researcher at CaHRU, on Tuesday 28th February 2017 on the topic of scoping reviews.

By Despina Laparidou

Professor Graham Law joins the School of Health and Social Care and CaHRU as Professor of Medical Statistics

Graham Law, appointed Professor of Medical Statistics, joined the School of Health and Social Care in February 2017. He has worked for 23 years in medical and healthcare research and student education. He has published many papers and books in a wide range of different fields such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular epidemiology, gastrointestinal disease, pregnancy and childbirth.

Graham LawOver the past six years he has been working on sleep research, using both experiments and observations. On sleep he has published papers using the National ‘Understanding Society’, with colleagues in Copenhagen and Cambridge on glucose control in people with diabetes, and using a cohort of women with gestational diabetes. These projects included a paper recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Graham attracted investment for, set up and ran the Leeds ‘Sound Asleep Laboratory’ and is on the UK Biobank Sleep Expert Group. He is Honorary Secretary of the British Sleep Society and in June is publishing a book titled ‘Sleep Better: from myth to science’.

Recently Graham has developed an interest in a statistical field known as Functional Data Analysis, where you stop reducing data to a single number such as the mean, and try to accept, exploit and embrace complexity. Using this he has published, for example, papers on change in birth weight immediately following delivery (used by the WHO publication ‘Beyond Survival’ published in 2013) and changes in glucose during the day and night (for example in Diabetes Care and NEJM).

He is currently working on a number of cohorts including using accelerometer data to assess sleep in the UK Biobank data. This collected data on 100 000 people wearing an accelerometer (think of a Fitbit) for a week.

Society for Academic Primary Care Trent Regional Conference – Research Challenging Practice – Lincoln 21 March 2017

SAPC 2017 poster FINAL flattenedWe look forward to welcoming colleagues to the beautiful city of Lincoln for the Trent Regional Spring Conference of the Society for Academic Primary Care. The meeting is being hosted by the University of Lincoln on 21 March 2017 at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel, Brayford Wharf North, Lincoln LN1 1YW.

Abstract submission is now closed and the conference programme will be available to download from the Community and Health Research Unit website by the end of January.

Our keynote speakers for 2017 are Nigel Mathers, Emeritus Professor of Primary Medical Care and previously Head of the Academic Unit of Primary Medical Care at the University of Sheffield, Aneez Esmail, Professor of General Practice at the University of Manchester and Navjoyt Ladher, a clinical editor at The BMJ.


Nigel Mathers is Professor Emeritus at the University of Sheffield where he was head of the academic unit of primary care until 2016. His research interests have included diabetes prevention, the development of patient decision aids, shared decision making and the evaluation of complex interventions in primary care.



EsmailAneez Esmail is Professor of General Practice at the University of Manchester and Director of the NIHR Manchester Patient Safety Translational Research Centre. He has published work in several areas of public health including prevention of cot deaths, epidemiology of solvent abuse, preventing paediatric admissions, and the evaluation of telemedicine and patient safety.

N Ladher photoNavjoyt Ladher is a clinical editor at The BMJ. She heads the scholarly comment section of the journal, is editorial lead for The BMJ Awards, and – her favourite part of the job – is responsible for the BMJ Christmas issue.



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The venue for the Society of Academic Primary Care Conference is the Doubletree by Lincoln Hotel located on Brayford Wharf North, Lincoln, LN1 1YW. The easiest way to travel to the conference is by rail. The Doubletree by Hilton is a short walk from the railway station in Lincoln, the route from the station to the Doubletree by Hilton is shown on the Lincoln City Centre map

If you are travelling by coach or minibus then we can arrange a drop off point and parking for the bus on the University Campus. Please e-mail Sue Bowler to arrange this. The nearest car park to the venue is the Lucy Tower car park, Lucy Tower Street, Lincoln, LN1 1XL. The daily parking rate is £7.50. For more information about car parking in Lincoln please see

If you wish to stay overnight in Lincoln, the Doubletree Hilton will offer a special rate for delegates. Also, the Holiday Inn Express is close by and has a University room rate. Please contact Sue Bowler for details. Please book as soon as possible. For alternative accommodation visit the following website:

To register please click here. For further information please e-mail