Building the research capacity of primary care providers: development of the primary health care research evaluation and development project in the Northern Territory
Grundy, J and Johnston, F, Building the research capacity of primary care providers: development of the primary health care research evaluation and development project in the Northern Territory, Australian Journal of Primary Health, 9, (1) pp. 9-17. ISSN 1448-7527 (2003) [Refereed Article]
The Centre for Remote Health Alice Springs (a University Department of Rural Health) was contracted by the then Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care to develop a submission to strengthen research and evaluation capacity at the primary level of care in the Northern Territory. This paper describes the process and outcomes of the research that formed the basis for the development of the strategy. Methods: National and international literature was reviewed. Interviews, consultations and workshops were conducted over a three-month period in the two major regions of the Northern Territory. Results: Stakeholders identified major barriers to research and evaluation implementation at the primary level of care. Barriers to implementation were identified in terms of the organisational structure of primary care and the professional culture of the research and health service communities. Three strategic directions were identified for research capacity building. These included (1) strengthening research collaborations; (2) trialling models of care that take into account the social determinants of health; and (3) developing the skills of general practitioners, other primary care providers, Indigenous researchers and communities to develop project proposals based on locally developed research priorities and questions. Conclusion: The central aim of the Primary Health Care Research, Evaluation and Development Strategy reflects an expressed need to bring research and evaluation capacity closer to the practice and community level. In doing so, the strategy has the potential to fill major identified gaps in applied and interventions-based research. The shift to community-based and prioritised research and evaluation was viewed as a strategy that has the potential to address the fundamental issue of widening health inequalities in the Northern Territory.