We encourage researchers planning general practice-related research (including use of Patron data) to contact us at least 4 weeks before their deadline, and earlier where possible.

Recruitment, GP Consulting and Data Services

The VicREN team works with the Department of General Practice and Primary Care Primary Care Clinical Trials Unit (PCTU) to provide a general practice and primary care trial recruiting and research consulting service. We provide various levels of assistance. Contact us for pricing and service enquiries.

Collaboration. Department of General Practice and Primary Care academic GPs can collaborate on general practice projects arising outside of our Department. This can have many benefits. The extent of the collaboration varies from project to project.

Our collaborators benefit from our research expertise including designing studies for the unique general practice environment, providing methodological advice around recruitment of GPs/practices and patients, and creation of appropriate recruitment materials and advertisements.

Advertising/promoting studies. We promote primary care related research through the distribution and promotion in regular e-bulletins and notices to GPs, practice managers, practice nurses and broader primary care organisations. Contact us if you have a general practice-related project to promote (Conditions apply – not all requests will be promoted).

Active recruitment. VicREN has services to recruit GPs, general practices and/or patients (fee based). The level of involvement can range from:

  • identifying a GP/practice that may be interested in a study/trial and passing on details to a researcher and/or recruiting a GP advisor / associate investigator for a study;
  • engaging with and visiting practices, educating staff about study details, and gaining their consent to participate;
  • recruiting patients for trials within consenting practices under direction from the research team;
  • identifying patients who may be eligible in our Data for Decisions/ Patron network and working with the GP practice to recruitment them;
  • organising and hosting events, e.g. practitioner of consumer focus or advisory groups; and
  • undertaking commissioned and/or collaborative research studies or evaluations, including recruitment, data collection, analysis and write up.

Patron primary care data repository. Over 100 general practices across Victoria contribute de-identified data from their electronic medical records to the Department of General Practice and Primary Care Patron data repository. This is part of VicREN’s Data for Decisions program of research. Get more information from the Data for Decisions website (go to the ‘Communities and Data Use’ tab and then the ‘Researchers’ section). There are costs associated with accessing Patron data and due dates for submission of applications to access Patron data. The independent Patron Data Governance Committee meets quarterly to assess applications.

  • Quotes for access Patron data. Be sure to contact the VicREN / Data for Decisions team as soon as you commence grant writing. Not all quotes are straightforward. Some projects require a single data extraction, others require extractions at multiple timepoints, data linkage capability, in-house data anslysis, and/or VicREN liaison with practices to gain practice consent to be part of an intervention study that might or might not require re-identification of Patron data (which can only happen with patient consent, and patient consent can only be gained by having a consenting practice contact the patient on behalf of the researchers).

When to contact VicREN

We encourage researchers planning general practice-related research (including use of Patron data) to contact us a minimum of four to six weeks before the deadline for their research proposal/project. This time is essential to understand your project, enable us to provide appropriate advice/options specific to your project and determine if we can assist.

Researcher often find out too late that they have under budgeted (or not budgeted at all) for general practice recruitment or use of general practice data, leading to study time and expense blow outs.  We regularly receive requests for recruitment assistance after researchers discover how difficult it can be to engage general practice staff and clinicians in research and trials. Be sure to contact us BEFORE you write your grant proposal!

Example projects assisted by VicREN through active recruitment of practices and/or participants:


Prof Jon Emery

Prof Jon Emery, Herman Professor of Primary Care Cancer Research,  Director of PC4 
VCCC Primary Care Research and Education Lead,  Centre for Cancer Research,  Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences,  University of Melbourne

"I’ve worked with VicREN for many years for support with practice recruitment into my research, even before I moved to Melbourne. I'd say we have successfully recruited over 300 practices through working with VicREN on various projects. Their systems and processes to support systematic practice recruitment in an efficient and timely way are excellent. The VicREN team really understand the challenges of conducting high quality research in general practice. I thoroughly recommend working with them from the beginning of developing your research proposal through to its final completion."