VicREN is a practice-based research network (PBRN) managed by the University of Melbourne that enables collaboration between community-based health care practices, community members and academic institutions.
What is VicREN?
VicREN is a practice-based research and education network that enables collaboration between the Department of General Practice at the University of Melbourne, primary care practices around Australia (mostly in Victoria) and other researchers. VicREN and Data for Decisions are not for profit.
VicREN members are provided with opportunities to learn more about research and teaching and contribute to research projects that make a difference to practice, public health, and policy. It links primary care practitioners and community members with researchers. Go to the Membership page to learn more.
Community members are also invited to join our Advisory Pool for potential opportunities to contribute to the development of University of Melbourne's Department of General Practice research and education activities.
Researchers or others interested in utilising VicREN's research/trial consultancy and recruitment services can find more information on the Research Services page.
Many of the practices that supervise medical students (teaching and learning practices) are also involved in research, that is why VicREN combines research and education in the one network.
VicREN aims to encourage the conduct of evidence-based primary care practice by:
- supporting collaborative practice-based primary care research that makes a difference to health outcomes and experiences of care
- providing primary care providers and patients with opportunities to engage in research, access research expertise and other development opportunities available through the Department of General Practice and the University of Melbourne;
- providing researchers with access to the network's expertise and a practice base; and
- contributing to dissemination of research findings.
Data for Decisions
VicREN has an e-research network called Data for Decisions. Over 100 general practices partner with us to provide de-identified data and are organisational members of VicREN. Learn more on the Research Services page.
Please contact us if you are part of an Australian general practice interested in becoming a Data for Decisions partner.
We encourage staff and clinicians at Data for Decisions practices to become individual members of VicREN.
Since 2007, the VicREN team have developed expertise in implementing research in the primary care setting, and in recruiting both practitioners and patients for primary care research without compromising or interrupting clinical care.
Our updated governance structure and strategic advisory group will be described here soon.
VicREN Advisory Groups
VicREN primary care provider or consumer Advisory Groups provide advice to academics so that research and education activities are developed in ways that are important to them and practical to implement. Please contact us if you are interested in being a part of the Advisory Group.
- Prof Lena Sanci: VicREN Chair, Head of Department
- Prof Meredith Temple-Smith: Deputy Head of Department
- Program Manager
- Teaching and Learning Manager
- Department Database Manager
- Practice Liaison and Recruitment Officers
- Research Assistants
- Department Business Manager and administrator support
- Last but not least, our active VicREN member advisors
VicREN members include GPs, practice nurses, practice managers and other healthcare providers working in general practice or community health care settings.
Membership is free.
Why do we need VicREN?
Primary care is the healthcare setting people use and attend most frequently; however, most health care research is conducted in the hospital or laboratory setting.
Research generated in hospital and laboratory settings may not be relevant to primary care clinical practice. To be applicable and meaningful, research about primary care should be designed for, and undertaken within, the primary care environment. VicREN helps this to happen.
- Interested in primary care research? Perhaps aged care, cancer, chronic illness, children and adolescent health, complementary medicine, data driven quality improvement, education, mental health, abuse & violence, sexual health, or other areas?
- Looking for something to complement your clinical work?
- Keen to be part of the ‘bigger picture’ of primary health care?
- Wanting to acquire research skills?
- Interested in meeting colleagues and other community members who share your interest in research and new knowledge?
- Interested in networking with other research and teaching practices?
VicREN accepts membership applications from all primary health care practitioners working in a general practice or community health setting, and community members are invited to join the Advisory Pool.
- Membership is free with no obligations.
- Introduction to research and the wider research community
- Links with other network members and access to academic research staff
- e-bulletins about current research projects, training opportunities, conferences & University events
- Regular newsletters
- Access to research training, events and other educational opportunities
Dr Debra Wilson MBBS FRACGP DRANZCOG, Practice Principal, Grantham Street General Practice, Brunswick West, Victoria, Australia
I have been a member of VicREN from its inception. I have actively engaged with the network and so I find it a vibrant connection of people able to engage in and drive priorities in primary health care research. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to discuss ideas with my GP colleagues and to see these ideas evolve into meaningful, practical knowledge and research, brought to life by the expertise of our academic colleagues at the Department. I highly recommend VicREN to all my curious GP colleagues as we continue to navigate the fast-moving world of primary health care.
We encourage researchers planning general practice-related research (including use of Patron data) to contact us early in the development of their research proposal.
Recruitment, GP Consulting and Data Services
The VicREN team works with the Department of General Practice 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.
Consulting. We provide services or advice for researchers intending to undertake research or clinical trials in the primary care setting. Consulting can include designing studies for the unique environment of general practice, providing methodological advice around recruitment of GPs/practices and patients, and creation of appropriate recruitment materials and advertisements.
Collaboration. Department of General Practice 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.
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 Practices 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 EARLY in the development of their research proposal.
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:
- Future Health Today
- Data for Decisions
- The PARTNER Project
- I-PACED: Implementing Pathways for Cancer Early Diagnosis
- The Target-D Trial
- Great Expectations: Achieving the promise of public reporting of health service performance
- The CRISP tool
- First cohort recruitment for NPS MedicineInsight
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.
- VicREN is seeking members of the public and primary care providers to provide advice to the Department of General Practice's Data Driven Quality Improvement research group, and to the Future Health Today program of work, for more information contact us.
Terms of Reference and Expression of Interest
- Data driven quality improvement consumer Special Interest Group (PDF 640.0 KB)
- Expression of Interest to join Advisory groups
(DOCX 405.3 KB)
NEWS and Recruitment opportunities for primary care providers (clinicians or practice staff)
- Monitoring the evolving COVID picture and adjusting processes as necessary: Click here to read letter for VicREN Chair and Head of Department Prof Lena Sanci (posted 23 Feb 2021)
- Do you provide care for pregnant women in Victoria? We want to hear from you! The Health Protection Branch of the Department of Health and Human Services is evaluating the service delivery of interventions for vaccine preventable infections (pertussis, influenza and hepatitis B) in pregnancy in Victoria. Please click here for more information and/or to complete this 10 minutes survey. Download the cover letter or read more here (Posted 19 February 2021)
- Seeking general practices to be part of a Future Health Today trial from September 2021. Click here to view the trial explanatory video (1min 50 sec). Email for more information or to register your interest. Practice incentive payments and other benefits apply to participating practices. (Posted October 2020, valid to August 2021).
- Seeking general practices to be part of Data for Decisions. This is an exciting, ongoing initiative that enables general practices to be involved in data-driven research without need for ongoing active staff involvement. An independent Data Governance Committee of GPs, consumers, practice managers, lawyer and others decides which ethically approved research projects can access fully de-identified primary care data for research. Involved practices are part of the VicREN e-practice-based research network. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
News and events
- VicREN member and academic GP A/Prof Jo-Anne Manski-Nankervis' Moth-style talk:
Jo-Anne's story should be listened to by medical students and doctors interested in pursuing research. It also provides poignant insight into the important role of general practitioners in the community. Click here for more information (Nov 2020).
- Legal and ethical perspectives on health data sharing: The third of our interactive online forums was attended by VicREN members and other interested GPs, practice managers and practice nurses. We had a guided conversation and Q&A session with three academic lawyers with expertise in health data sharing and clinical decision support tools and their regulation. (December 2020).
- The 12th annual Department of General Practice Research and Teaching Awards Night went ahead in a webinar format on the 20th October 2020. We had a jam packed hour facilitated by Dr Nick Carr. Our Hon Professor Michael Kidd AM gave the key note, followed by a chat with special guests about primary care in the next 10 years. Follow this link to find out who were the award winners from general practices.
- Informing Future Models of Care 23rd June 2020: The first of our interactive online forums to help shape general practice in the post-first wave of COVID-19 world was well attended. VicREN members and other interested GPs, practice managers and practice nurses joined VicREN Chair and Head of Department Prof Lena Sanci with special guests Dr Mukesh Haikerwal and Dr Andrew Baird. Insights were shared that informed our advocacy efforts in the escalation of issues to policy makers.
- VicREN member article helping GPs to respond to misinformation about coronavirus: “Coronavirus: Myths, open questions and overhyped treatments” (April 2020)
VicREN GP Dr Magdalena Simonis shared her article from RACGP’s News GP. Dr Simonis said: “There’s a lot of noise out there and GPs are being faced with all sorts of questions. I thought this might be of some help to our GP community.”
- Congratulations to the GPs, practice nurses and practice staff recognised at the Eleventh Annual Department of General Practice Research and Teaching Awards night for their excellent contribution to research and/or teaching. The VicREN research awards are a highlight of the year. (May 2019)
GPs, practice manager, practice nurses and other primary care providers can get involved. Contact us or become a member now.
VicREN Program Manager
Department of General Practice
Level 3, 780 Elizabeth Street
The University of Melbourne
Victoria, 3010, Australia
Telephone: +61 3 8344 3392