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This is the home space of the UNLOCK project.

What is UNLOCK?

UNLOCK (Uncovering and Noting Long-term Outcomes in COPD and asthma to enhance Knowledge) is an international collaboration between primary care researchers to coordinate and share datasets of relevant diagnostic and follow-up variables for COPD and asthma management in primary care. It was set up by members of the International Primary Care Respiratory Group.   The protocol summary was published in the Primary Care Respiratory Journal in 2010.UNLOCK PCRJ.pdf

What is UNLOCK for?

The IPCRG Research Need Statement identified the need for evidence to underpin the primary care approach to diagnosis, assessment and broad management strategies (the IPCRG Research Needs Statement). This evidence is required to address current concerns including variations in care and outcomes, the difference between the results of clinical trials and real outcomes in primary care and the need for clinical guidelines that are relevant and useful for primary care.

The primary purpose of UNLOCK is the evaluation of the burden of disease (symptoms, limitations and exacerbations), the natural history of disease, treatment and follow-up, and co-morbidities in unselected primary care populations from diverse contexts.  The unique value of UNLOCK is that data is drawn from primary care databases so there is the potential for longitudinal as well as cross-sectional studies. In addition, as they are primary care populations there is the potential to consider multiple morbidity. Moreover, because there are already 14 countries involved, data can be drawn from a variety of contexts.   

How does UNLOCK work?

Members of the UNLOCK group define research questions. Members then provide relevant data from their existing primary care datasets for analysis to answer the relevant research question.  Each member maintains their own database and data is not kept in a merged form in order to maintain the integrity of individual datasets. More information is available in the UNLOCK governance summary (accessible by clicking here: 4. UNLOCK governance summary.pdf)

What type of issues does UNLOCK explore?

To date UNLOCK has used data from different countries to:

Studies currently underway include:
  • An analysis of the clinical relevance of morning symptoms in COPD patients: a measure of severity or a missed group?;
  • An analysis of the prevalence of comorbidities in COPD patients and their impact on the quality of life in primary care patients;
  • An analysis  of the validity of large asthma studies for real life populations    
Studies currently in development include those on: 
  • Predictors of cost-effectiveness of asthma and COPD treatment across different primary care settings;
  • Incidence and predictors of lung cancer arising in patients in primary care with a diagnosis of COPD.
For more information on emerging findings, see the presentation on UNLOCK progress (accessible by clicking here: 2014-04 UNLOCK INFO PP.pptx)

Who are the UNLOCK members?

The UNLOCK Group currently includes members from 14 countries: Sweden, Spain, Ukraine, Canada, Greece, UK, Netherlands, Norway, Australia, Portugal, Belgium, Germany, India and Chile. 

How is UNLOCK managed?

A small UNLOCK Steering Committee oversees its work. This works within the framework of the IPCRG’s research standards and of its research needs statement and priorities. The IPCRG Board has overall responsibility for UNLOCK's progress and performance, both financially and scientifically. 

Is UNLOCK open to new members?

Yes. Interested researchers are invited to join the group. A condition of membership is the ability to contribute primary care patient data on COPD and asthma which meet minimum inclusion criteria.

For more information contact Liza Cragg, the UNLOCK project manager by posting a comment here.


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  1. The Rosetta Project aims to re-use several aligned databases for specific research purposes and to find ways of accessing and synchronising the data so these can be beneficial for all participants. Data contribution is on a voluntary per-question basis for all participants. The primary goal of Rosetta is creating possibilities for international data-exchange for researchers of pulmonary diseases in primary care respecting the rights of the primary sources. The first step will be an inventory of existing databases and create a common standard for comparison of data. 


  2. Hi Liza,

    We're a primary care reserch team, from different Spanish cities, as Miguel Román told you.

    We're just planning a protocol about COPD, multimorbidity and prognosis. Actually, we are already in the pilot phase.

    We think we could contribute with patient data to UNLOCK (and the other way round), but it would be very helpful if we know the variables (and categories) already included, the database standards, etc.

     Besides, I understand it will be needed some kind of agreement, won't it?