A comparison of the approaches to building research capacity in primary care in Australia and the UK

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Nancarrow, S, Askew, D, Boyce, R, Cooke, J, & Yorks, S 2005, 'A comparison of the approaches to building research capacity in primary care in Australia and the UK', paper presented to the 4th Health Services & Policy Research Conference: Health Systems, Services and Strife, Canberra, ACT, 14-16 November.

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Background: The need to develop research capacity in primary care is now recognised internationally as a necessity for the production of high quality, effective services [1, 2, 3]. However, the approaches to developing research capacity vary between countries due to contextual differences such as systems of health care financing and organisation and the geographic dispersion of primary care practitioners.
Method: This paper examines the approaches to research capacity building in Australia and the UK by comparing the policy and health care context in each country; the applications of the policy including funding for RCB; mechanisms for allocating RCB funding; and the target practitioners. We provide specific examples of RCB activity at individual, team, organisational and network levels and where available, discuss the effectiveness of those levels against six principles of RCB.
Results: Both the Australian and UK Governments have made significant investments to develop research capacity. The major areas of focus are: – Building the research workforce in the form of fellowships and bursaries to facilitate research career progression. – Building infrastructure and networks. Such as the Federation of Primary Care Networks in the UK – Investing in research support. In the UK this includes a network of Research and Development Support Units (RDSU) to support practitioners to undertake research – Responsive funds to support projects. For example in Australia the PHC RED offer grants to primary care practitioners to submit project protocols and link this into support structures to enable capacity building and – Developing and strengthening academic infrastructure.
Conclusion: The evolution of the different approaches to research capacity building (RCB) internationally presents an opportunity for learning and sharing examples of policy development and application.