Prioritising the respiratory research needs of primary care

The IPCRG’s Research Needs Statement identified 145 research questions within five domains (asthma, rhinitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), smoking, respiratory infections). These were subsequently prioritised using an international e-Delphi process.

To prioritise the research questions, an international panel of primary care clinicians scored the clinical importance, feasibility, and international relevance of each question on a scale of 1-5 (5 = most important). In subsequent rounds, informed by the Group’s median scores, participants scored overall priority. Consensus was defined as 80% agreement for priority scores 4 or 5.

Twenty-three experts from 21 countries completed all three rounds. Sixty-two questions were prioritised across the five domains. A recurring theme was for ‘simple tools’ (e.g. questionnaires) enabling diagnosis and assessment in community settings, often with limited access to investigations. Seven questions recorded 100% agreement: these involved pragmatic approaches to the diagnosis of COPD and rhinitis, assessment of asthma and respiratory infections, management of rhinitis, and implementing asthma self-management.

The prioritisation exercise concluded that evidence to underpin the primary care approach to diagnosis and assessment and broad management strategies were overarching priorities. If primary care is to contribute to the global challenge of managing respiratory non-communicable diseases, policymakers, funders, and researchers need to prioritise these questions.

Note: The IPCRG is currently in the process of updating its research prioritisation exercise.