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Introduction: The UK has an ageing population, especially in rural areas, where deprivation is high among older people. Previous research has identified this group as at high risk of poor access to healthcare. The aim of this study is to generate a theory of how socioeconomically disadvantaged older people from rural areas access primary care, to develop an intervention based on this theory and test it in a feasibility trial. Methods and analysis: On the basis of the MRC Framework for Developing and Evaluating Complex Interventions, three methods will be used to generate the theory. First, a realist review will elucidate the patient pathway based on existing literature. Second, an analysis of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing will be completed using structural equation modelling. Third, 15 semistructured interviews will be undertaken with patients and four focus groups with health professionals. A triangulation protocol will be used to allow each of these methods to inform and be informed by each other, and to integrate data into one overall realist theory. Based on this theory, an intervention will be developed in discussion with stakeholders to ensure that the intervention is feasible and practical. The intervention will be tested within a feasibility trial, the design of which will depend on the intervention. Lessons from the feasibility trial will be used to refine the intervention and gather the information needed for a definitive trial. Ethics and dissemination: Ethics approval from the regional ethics committee has been granted for the focus groups with health professionals and interviews with patients. Ethics approval will be sought for the feasibility trial after the intervention has been designed. Findings will be disseminated to the key stakeholders involved in intervention development, to researchers, clinicians and health planners through peer-reviewed journal articles and conference publications, and locally through a dissemination event.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Open

Publication Date