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Brighton & Sussex Medical School

Primary care and public health

BSMS > Research > Primary care and public health

Primary Care and Public Health

We believe that place-based population health lies at the heart of effective healthcare. Our teaching and research across primary care and public health help us develop ways to evaluate and improve the health and healthcare of all, particularly the most vulnerable, stigmatised and underserved, such as people living in deprived coastal communities. The Department of Primary Care and Public Health hosts experts across a wide range of disciplines and methodologies to address healthcare challenges across the lifespan. These include general practice, public health, epidemiology, medical statistics, data science, psychology and behavioural medicine in an ongoing dialogue between teaching, research and clinical work, with a focus on addressing health inequalities.  

A group photo of the primary care team at BSMS. The team are stood in front of a wall with bright artwork on it

Our mission statement

Our overall objectives are to improve the health and wellbeing of the population and enhance our understanding by:

  • Educating the next generation of our healthcare workforce about General Practice and Public Health, educating researchers and building capacity in primary care and public health. 
  • Conducting high quality research to inform patients, the public and health care professionals, and to guide the development and innovation of health services. 
  • Working with our Integrated Care Boards, our NHS partners and Local Authorities to influence health policy and strategy, to advocate for the health needs of the community and to increase workforce and capacity in Primary Care and Public Health which are vital for the nations’ health and wellbeing.

Our core values are: 

  • Maintaining excellence in teaching, training and research
  • Fostering collaboration, connection, sustainability and continuity through co-production
  • Prevention of disease and early diagnosis  
  • Reducing health inequalities
  • Taking a multi-disciplinary approach
A student practices taking a patient's blood pressure while a teacher looks on

Our department and teaching

The department of primary care and public health coordinates general practice, public health and research methods teaching throughout the undergraduate medical curriculum, and offers key statistics and research methods support to staff and students throughout the medical school.

More about Primary and Public Health Teaching >

Doctor inspects an X-ray image of a spine and pelvic bone

Research areas

The department of primary care and public health has key strengths in the following research areas. We lead the Primary and Community Care and Public Health themes for the NIHR Kent Surrey and Sussex Applied Research Collaboration (KSS ARC).

Primary Care and Health Services Research 

Our research focuses on management of long-term conditions in primary care, especially conditions which affect the elderly, such as dementia. We are interested in addressing issues of frailty, multi-morbidity and in developing tools to help support GPs with an increasing workload and an increasingly elderly population. In addition we are interested in using GP patient records for understanding disease epidemiology in primary care.

Epidemiology and Public Health

We undertake an extensive portfolio of research on the epidemiology of chronic diseases, especially cancer and respiratory diseases, and engage with local public health teams to address public health issues in the local and national population, such as cancer awareness, smoking cessation, and community mental health. 

Sexual Health and Behavioural Medicine 

We are interested in reducing the burden of sexually transmitted infections including HIV, by using behavioural and psychological interventions to help individuals reduce risky sexual behaviour. In addition, our research identifies broader health inequities experienced by those identifying as LGBT.

Health Data Science and Electronic Health Records 

We use electronic patient records from general practice for epidemiological studies, and we are also interested in developing methodologies which help researchers understand and optimise the use of records for the research context, such as integrating clinical information from free text.

more about primary care and public health research areas >

Statistical advice for BSMS staff and research students

If you are a researcher working with quantitative data, you either need to be statistically competent, consult a statistician, or both! Wherever possible, we recommend costing statistician time into your project; we can advise on this. Please complete our online form to request a Statistics Clinic appointment with one of our team.

More about statistical advice >

Partners and networks

We maintain close links with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network and through this have links with more than 200 general practices around Kent, Surrey and Sussex to recruit patients for research trials and studies.

We have strong associations with the local clinical trials unit, with the local council and with Public Health England.

In all our areas of research, we are keen to develop links with colleagues at our parent universities, the University of Sussex and the University of Brighton, the local health economy and across the UK and also internationally, for instance in several projects funded by the European Union, with African countries and China.


Clinical Research Network >

Clinical Trials Unit >

Public Health in Brighton and Hove >

Close up of 3 people sitting in a seminar. One person is gesturing and teaching the other 2 a concept.