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1.  Features of successful bids for funding of applied health research: a cohort study 
The literature suggests that research funding decisions may be influenced by criteria such as gender or institution of the principal investigator (PI). The aim of this study was to investigate the association between characteristics of funding applications and success when considered by a research funding board.
We selected a retrospective cohort of 296 outline applications for primary research (mainly pragmatic clinical trials) submitted to the commissioning board of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme between January 1st 2006 and December 31st 2009. We selected proposals submitted to the commissioned NIHR HTA work stream as they addressed issues which the programme already deemed to be important, hence the priority of the research question was not considered as one of the selection criteria for success or failure. Main outcome measures were success or failure at short-listing and in obtaining research funding.
The characteristics of applications associated with success at shortlisting and funding were multi-disciplinarity of the team (OR 19.94 [5.13, 77.50], P <0.0001), particularly inclusion of a statistician (OR 3.76 [2.21, 6.37], P <0.0001), and the completion of a pilot/feasibility study (OR 4.11 [1.24, 13.62], P = 0.0209). The gender of the PI was not associated with success or failure at either stage. The PI’s affiliation institution was not associated with success or failure at shortlisting.
The gender of the PI was not associated with success or failure. The characteristics of research applications most strongly associated with success were related to the range of expertise in the team and the completion of a pilot or feasibility study.
PMCID: PMC4180128  PMID: 25245823
Funding applications; Health technology assessment; Primary research; Research funding
2.  Developing a checklist for research proposals to help describe health service interventions in UK research programmes: a mixed methods study 
One of the most common reasons for rejecting research proposals in the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) Programme is the failure to adequately specify the intervention or context in research proposals. Examples of failed research proposals include projects to assess integrated care models, use of generic caseworkers, or new specialist nurse services. These are all important service developments which need evaluation, but the lack of clarity about the intervention and context prevented these research proposals from obtaining funding. The purpose of the research presented herein was to develop a checklist, with key service intervention and contextual features, for use by applicants to the NIHR HS&DR Programme to potentially enhance the quality of research proposals.
The study used mixed methods to identify the need for and develop and test a checklist. Firstly, this included assessing existing checklists in peer-reviewed literature relevant to organisational health research. Building on existing work, a new checklist was piloted. Two reviewers used a small sample (n = 16) of research proposals to independently assess the relevance of the checklist to the proposal and the degree of overlap or gaps between the constructs. The next two stages externally validated the revised checklist by collecting qualitative feedback from researchers and experts in the field.
The initial checklist was developed from existing checklists which included domains of intervention and context. The constructs and background to each were developed through review of existing literature. Eight researchers provided feedback on the checklist, which was generally positive. This iterative process resulted in changes to the checklist, collapsing two constructs and providing more prompts for others; the final checklist includes six constructs.
Features relating to intervention and context should be well described to increase the quality of research proposals and enhance the chances of the research receiving funding. Existing checklists do not have enough focus on areas relevant to research proposals in complex health service interventions, such as workforce. A formative checklist has been developed, and tested by end users. Tentative findings suggest usefulness and acceptability of such a tool but further work is needed for full validation.
PMCID: PMC3996017  PMID: 24593794
5.  The journey from self-care to GP care: a qualitative interview study of women presenting with symptoms of urinary tract infection 
The British Journal of General Practice  2009;59(564):e219-e225.
Urinary tract infection (UTI) is one of the commonest acute infections presenting to primary care. Little is known of women's experiences of UTI; self-care strategies and key triggers for their consulting behaviour are also little known.
To explore women's experiences of self-care and their journey to GP care, when faced with symptoms of a UTI.
Design of study
Qualitative semi-structured interview study with women recruited to a larger UK trial of different management strategies for UTI.
General practices across four counties in southern England.
Twenty-one women were interviewed about the experiences they had prior to their GP visit, self-care strategies, and triggers for help seeking. Interviews were analysed thematically, using principles of analytic induction.
Women reported a process of evaluation, monitoring, re-evaluation, and, finally, consulting in order to meet their needs. Four key triggers for consulting were identified: failure to alleviate symptoms through self-care; symptom duration and escalation; impeding normal functioning and the fulfilment of social roles; and concern that it may be or become a serious illness.
Although UTI is often self-limiting, when taking patient histories and formulating their management strategies clinicians need to take into account women's often painful experience, their efforts to resolve symptoms prior to consulting, and their fears that the symptoms may indicate something more serious than a UTI.
PMCID: PMC2702035  PMID: 19566988
antibiotics; consultation; urinary tract infection
6.  Potential benefits of using a toolkit developed to aid in the adaptation of HTA reports: a case study considering positron emission tomography (PET) and Hodgkin's disease 
The preparation of HTA reports requires a great deal of time, effort and resource, and there is a desire to improve efficiency, avoid duplication of effort and facilitate the transfer of knowledge between countries. This is of particular importance for countries with more limited resources which have less capacity to produce their own reports. The aim of this study was to investigate the extent of duplication of published Health Technology Assessment (HTA) reports, on the same technology, for the same indication; using positron emission tomography (PET) for lung cancer and Hodgkin's disease as a case study. This was done in order to assess the potential usefulness of a toolkit developed to aid in the adaptation of HTA reports from one context or country to another.
A systematic search of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) CRD HTA database was conducted in June 2008 in order to identify full HTA reports containing information on the use of PET for lung cancer and Hodgkin's disease, written in English, and readily available on the web. The contents of the reports identified were then examined to assess the extent of duplication of content between reports and potential for the use of the toolkit.
From 132 records of HTA reports about PET, 8 reports were identified as fulfilling all the criteria set, and therefore demonstrating potential duplication of effort. All these reports covered four similar domains, technology use, safety, effectiveness and economic evaluation. Five of the reports also considered organisational aspects.
There was some duplication of effort in the preparation of HTA reports concerned with the use of PET for lung cancer and Hodgkin's disease. This is an example of where resource could have been conserved and time saved by the use of a toolkit developed to aid in the adaptation of HTA reports from one context to another.
PMCID: PMC2887859  PMID: 20504304
7.  Cost effectiveness of management strategies for urinary tract infections: results from randomised controlled trial 
Objective To assess the cost effectiveness of different management strategies for urinary tract infections.
Design Cost effectiveness analysis alongside a randomised controlled trial with a one month follow-up.
Setting Primary care.
Participants 309 non-pregnant adult women aged 18-70 presenting with suspected urinary tract infection.
Interventions Patients were randomised to five basic management approaches: empirical antibiotics, empirical delayed (by 48 hours) antibiotics, or targeted antibiotics based on either a high symptom score (two or more of urine cloudiness, smell, nocturia, dysuria), dipstick results (nitrite or leucocytes and blood), or receipt of a positive result on midstream urine analysis.
Main outcome measure Duration of symptoms and cost of care.
Results Management with targeted antibiotics with midstream urine analysis was more costly over the period of one month. Costs for the midstream urine analysis and dipstick management groups were £37 and £35, respectively; these compared with £31 for immediate antibiotics. Cost effectiveness acceptability curves suggested that if avoiding a day of moderately bad symptoms was valued at less than £10, then immediate antibiotics is likely to be the most cost effective strategy. For values over £10, targeted antibiotics with dipstick testing becomes the most cost effective strategy, though because of the uncertainty we can never be more than 70% certain that this strategy truly is the most cost effective.
Conclusion Dipstick testing with targeted antibiotics is likely to be cost effective if the value of saving a day of moderately bad symptoms is £10 or more, but caution is required given the considerable uncertainty surrounding the estimates.
PMCID: PMC2817048  PMID: 20139218
8.  Developing clinical rules to predict urinary tract infection in primary care settings: sensitivity and specificity of near patient tests (dipsticks) and clinical scores 
Suspected urinary tract infection (UTI) is one of the most common presentations in primary care. Systematic reviews have not documented any adequately powered studies in primary care that assess independent predictors of laboratory diagnosis.
To estimate independent clinical and dipstick predictors of infection and to develop clinical decision rules.
Design of study
Validation study of clinical and dipstick findings compared with laboratory testing.
General practices in the south of England.
Laboratory diagnosis of 427 women with suspected UTI was assessed using European urinalysis guidelines. Independent clinical and dipstick predictors of diagnosis were estimated.
UTI was confirmed in 62.5% of women with suspected UTI. Only nitrite, leucocyte esterase (+ or greater), and blood (haemolysed trace or greater) independently predicted diagnosis (adjusted odds ratios 6.36, 4.52, 2.23 respectively). A dipstick decision rule, based on having nitrite, or both leucocytes and blood, was moderately sensitive (77%) and specific (70%); positive predictive value (PPV) was 81% and negative predictive value (NPV) was 65%. Predictive values were improved by varying the cut-off point: NPV was 73% for all three dipstick results being negative, and PPV was 92% for having nitrite and either blood or leucocyte esterase. A clinical decision rule, based on having two of the following: urine cloudiness, offensive smell, and dysuria and/or nocturia of moderate severity, was less sensitive (65%) (specificity 69%; PPV 77%, NPV 54%). NPV was 71% for none of the four clinical features, and the PPV was 84% for three or more features.
Simple decision rules could improve targeting of investigation and treatment. Strategies to use such rules need to take into account limited negative predictive value, which is lower than expected from previous research.
PMCID: PMC1874525  PMID: 16882379
clinical scoring algorithms; diagnosis, urinary tract infection; dipsticks

Results 1-8 (8)