Anglia Ruskin academic wins major research prize

Published: 29 September 2016 at 15:30

Dr Charlotte Paddison with her award

Royal College of General Practitioners honours study into health of informal carers

Research led by a psychologist from Anglia Ruskin University received national recognition last night when it was named Health Service Delivery and Public Health Paper of the Year 2016 by the Royal College of General Practitioners.    

Dr Charlotte Paddison, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University, won the prestigious award for her research with colleagues at the Cambridge Centre for Health Services Research into the health, quality of life and patient experiences of informal carers.  The study has been published in the journal BMC Family Practice.

Dr Paddison said: 


“Informal carers make up approximately 10% of the population and the economic value of informal caring has been estimated at £119 billion per year in the UK, but they experience worse physical and mental health than non-carers.  

“However, until now the patient experience of carers – not in their role as a carer for someone else, but as a patient themselves – has been less well understood.  That’s why I’m delighted this research has been recognised by the Royal College of General Practitioners.”

Using data from the English General Practice Patient Survey (2012), which included 195,364 people who self-identified as carers, the study found that younger carers were in much poorer health than non-carers of the same age, and that the health of all carers worsens as the time per week spent caring increases.  On average, carers experienced 11 fewer days of full health per year than non-carers.  

All carers, at all levels of caring commitment, were more likely to report pain, depression, and anxiety than non-carers.  The study also found that carers reported poorer patient experiences in all areas of primary care, particularly with regards to access to care.   

Dr Paddison added: 


“The key message from this research is that informal carers experience a double disadvantage of poorer health-related quality of life and worse patient experience, so improving the provision of quality health services and the patient experience for carers should be a priority.  

“Primary care practices should continually review patients and compile a ‘register’ of informal caregivers; they should proactively seek to identify and treat pain, anxiety and depression among carers; and they should improve access to primary care and provide individualised support to all carers.”

Dr Paddison began working in primary care in 2007.  After eight years in the Primary Care Unit at the University of Cambridge, including five as Senior Research Associate in the Cambridge Centre for Health Services Research, she joined Anglia Ruskin University in 2015.    

The full paper “Informal carers’ health-related quality of life and patient experience in primary care: evidence from 195,364 carers in England responding to a national survey” is Open Access and can be read here