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The IPCRG Research Need Statement (RNS) identified 145 primary care research needs in five domains: asthma, allergic rhinitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, tobacco dependence, respiratory infections. (See Pinnock et al. Prim Care Resp J 2010;19(Suppl 1): S1-S21).

We have subsequently prioritised these using an international e-Delphi exercise which is summarised below.

We encourage the respiratory research community to regard these prioritised pragmatic questions as a call to action because they could make a real difference to clinical practice. Please distribute to your networks.

Prioritising the respiratory research needs of primary care: the International Primary Care Respiratory Group (IPCRG) e-Delphi exercise

Hilary Pinnock, Anders Østrem, Miguel Román Rodríguez, Dermot Ryan, Björn Ställberg, Mike Thomas, Ioanna Tsiligianni, Sian Williams, Osman Yusuf Abstract

Background: Community-based care, underpinned by relevant primary care research, is an important component of the global fight against non-communicable diseases. The International Primary Care Research Group’s (IPCRG’s) Research Needs Statement identified 145 research questions within five domains (asthma, rhinitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), smoking, respiratory infections).

Aims: To use an e-mail Delphi process to prioritise the research questions.

Methods: An international panel of primary care clinicians scored the clinical importance, feasibility, and international relevance of each question on a scale of 1-5 (5 = most important). In subsequent rounds, informed by the Group’s median scores, participants scored overall priority. Consensus was defined as 80% agreement for priority scores 4 or 5.

Results: Twenty-three experts from 21 countries completed all three rounds. Sixty-two questions were prioritised across the five domains. A recurring theme was for ‘simple tools’ (e.g. questionnaires) enabling diagnosis and assessment in community settings, often with limited access to investigations. Seven questions recorded 100% agreement: these involved pragmatic approaches to the diagnosis of COPD and rhinitis, assessment of asthma and respiratory infections, management of rhinitis, and implementing asthma self-management.

Conclusion: Evidence to underpin the primary care approach to diagnosis and assessment and broad management strategies were overarching priorities. If primary care is to contribute to the global challenge of managing respiratory non-communicable diseases, policymakers, funders, and researchers need to prioritise these questions.

Keywords: non-communicable diseases, primary care, research priorities, respiratory medicine, IPCRG

Conflict of interest and funding: None. The IPCRG provided administrative support.

Correspondence: Dr Hilary Pinnock, Tel: +44 (0)131 650 8102 Fax: +44 (0)131 650 9119 E-mail:


This abstract, which is reproduced with permission from the Primary Care Respiratory Journal, should be cited as: Pinnock H, Ostrem A, Rodriguez MR, Ryan D, Stallberg B, Thomas M, Tsiligianni I, Williams S, Yusuf O. Prioritising the respiratory research needs of primary care: the International Primary Care Respiratory Group (IPCRG) e-Delphi exercise. Prim Care Respir J 2012; Available from: URL:

The abstract was presented at the annual conference of the Primary Care Respiratory Society UK 2011. A poster and accompanying presentation are available from the IPCRG website. Both the Research Needs Statement and the e-Delphi prioritisation exercise are published by the Primary Care Respiratory Medicine and are freely available on line

Further resources:

The IPCRG has some small grants available and can also fundraise for specific proposals it decides to support. For further details about the IPCRG's research policy and for further details about making research proposals to the IPCRG, click here.

Country prioritisation

The IPCRG's Portuguese group undertook a similar Delphi process (BMC Family Medicine 2016)  to agree the most important questions for the Portuguese context.