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We investigate infectious diseases in primary care to find out how we can identify patients with serious infection in primary care, and more effective ways of diagnosing and treating patients with common infections.

We are working on a number of studies looking at how to diagnose and treat various common infectious diseases in children and adults in primary care.

Our work is important because it will help primary care clinicians to decide how best to identify which patients presenting with common symptoms such as coughs and colds are most likely to develop serious complications. This will help GPs know which patients are most likely to benefit from antibiotics. This can help to reduce unnecessary prescribing of antibiotics that is adding to resistance to antibiotics in many countries. We are running a number of very large studies to help answer these questions, which involve recruiting thousands of patients from across the UK.

We are also examining novel ways of diagnosing other infections such as whooping cough in people presenting with cough, as this may be an important cause of persistent coughing even in children and adults who have been vaccinated against this infection. We are also examining how many children with a persistent cough may have whooping cough; and trialling a drug which may be an effective treatment for persistent coughs.

In parallel, we are running trials to investigate treatments other than antibiotics for patients presenting with common cough and cold symptoms. This may give GPs and patients treatment options other than antibiotics to help relieve symptoms for these common illnesses.

Many of our researchers are major contributors to the NIHR Diagnostic Evidence Co-operative Oxford which is hosted by this department. 

Our team

Latest news

GP practices urged to join COVID-19 research

The Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) have joined forces with clinical system supplier EMIS Health to urgently recruit as many GP practices as possible for COVID-19 research.

Selected publications

Our blogs:

Infographics about antibiotics: making facts accessible

NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer, Dr Oliver van Hecke, writes about how infographics may be an effective tool to increase parents' understanding about antibiotic use. Oliver's project poster recently won first prize at the South West SAPC meeting in Bristol.

Antibiotics: even low use in children can have a negative impact on health – new research

Taking any antibiotic makes developing antibiotic resistance more likely. Dr Oliver van Hecke, Clinical Lecturer and GP, writes about his latest study showing that even relatively low antibiotic use has potential health implications.

Attending the House of Commons as panel expert

NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer, Dr Oliver van Hecke, describes his recent experience as a panel member on a All-Party Parliamentary Group event on antimicrobial resistance.


Whooping Cough