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Helen Smith




Professor Helen Smith 
BMedSci, BMBS, MSc, MD, FFPHM, MRCGP
Professor of Family Medicine & Primary Care
Director, Primary Care Research Network

 


Team
 

Introduction

Professor Helen Smith is the Professor of Family Medicine and Primary Care​ at LKCMedicine. She graduated in medicine from the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom (UK) and later trained in epidemiology and health services research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and at the University of British Columbia. She has dual accreditations in General Practice and Public Health Medicine and has experience of working in academic, hospital and general practice settings, both in the UK and Canada.  Prior to this post, Prof Smith was the foundation professor of Primary Care at Brighton and Sussex Medical School and was Head of the Division of Public Health and Primary Care.

Prof Smith, as one of the leading exponents of Primary Care Research Networks, has made major contributions to primary care internationally. She has developed initiatives to expand research capacity in the specialty and through rigorous trials, strengthened the evidence to improve the care family physicians provide to their patients. The Primary Care Research Network she established in the south of England was the first of its kind and was cited as an example of good practice in the Department of Health’s Strategic Review of Primary Care. Subsequently, similar research networks were replicated throughout the UK.  Prof Smith was foundation chair of the UK Federation of Primary Care Networks and also co-founded the International Federation, an organisation under the umbrella of World Organisation of Family Doctors (WONCA). Her advice on the development of academic family medicine and building of research capacity has been sought by many countries.

Throughout her career, Prof Smith’s research has focused on the evaluation of novel ways of delivering health services and ‘new technologies’ for primary health care.  For example, her trials in the organisation of health care transformed the provision of out-of-hours care, improved the provision of minor surgery services in the community and changed the appointment booking system for patients wishing to see their general practitioner. She has over 170 publications in peer reviewed journals and has a strong track record of attracting research and research infrastructure grants, particularly with multidisciplinary teams.


Research Focus

Prof Smith’s research expertise is in the design of randomised controlled trials and mixed method (qualitative and quantitative) evaluation. She is currently focusing on a program of research on the management of respiratory and musculoskeletal disorders in the non-specialist setting. Her research has developed in response to the increasing prevalence of chronic illnesses, the recognition that they impact significantly on patients’ quality of life and outcomes are less good when not actively managed. 

Her work on the evaluation of psychological interventions cuts across different clinical areas (including respiratory, obstetrics and psychiatry). The current management of many disorders focuses principally on pharmacological treatments, frequently with a strong underlying evidence base. However, in clinical practice, poor symptom control can remain problematic for patients.  Whilst individual case reports and some trials support the use of psychological interventions as an adjunct to pharmacological therapy, the evidence is not consistent and when synthesised in meta-analyses, no firm conclusions can be drawn.  A program of rigorous research is needed to improve on the methodology of existing evaluations.

Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine is committed to the development of the discipline of academic family medicine and primary care for Singapore.  In preparation for this, Prof Smith plans to conduct a mapping and scoping exercise of existing research in primary care within the region.  This, together with a survey of Family Physicians and General Practitioners, will help inform the design and implementation of a Primary Care Research Network​ for Singapore.


Selected Publications 

Jones, C., Sommereux, L. & Smith, H. (2018). Exploring what motivates and sustains support group engagement amongst young people with allergies: A qualitative studyClinical & Experimental Allergy. 48(9), 1195-1205. doi:10.1111/cea.13193

Luna Puerta, L., Smith, H., Bartlam, B. (2019). Researcher perspectives from Singapore on patient and public involvement and engagement in health research: the argument for a community-based approach. Health Expectations. 22(4):666-675. doi: 10.1111/hex.12915

Law, G.C., Jones, C.J., Bulbul, A., Smith, H. (2019) “At a loss of what to do”: a qualitative analysis of parents’ online discussion forums about their administration of asthma inhalers to their young children. Taylor & Francis. doi: 10.1080/02770903.2019.1615941

Smith, H., Horney, D., Jones, C. et al. (2016). Pragmatic randomized trial of an allergy intervention for children aged 6-16 with asthma and rhinitis in general practice. Clinical & Experimental Allergy. 46(9):1227-35.

Browne, C.E., Jones, C.J., ..., & Smith, H. (2016). A qualitative study of the allergy testing experiences, views and preferences of adult patients. Clinical and Translational Allergy. 6:37-40.

Apfelbacher C, Jones C, ..., & Smith H. (2016). Validity of three asthma-specific quality of life questionnaires: the patients’ perspective. BMJ Open. 6(12):e011793.

Smith H, Bulbul A, & Jones C. (2017). Can Online Discussion Sites Generate Quality Data for Research Purposes? Front Public Health. 5:156.

Mercer R, Jones C, & Smith H. (2017). Reviewing the content and design of anaphylaxis management plans published in English. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice. 5(5):1288-1294.e4.

Paudyal P, Jones C, ..., & Smith H. (2017). Meditation for asthma: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Asthma. 55(7):771-8.

Ayers S, Crawley R, ..., Smith H. (2018). Evaluation of expressive writing to improve postpartum health: a randomised controlled trial​Journal of Behavioral Medicine. 41(5), 614-26. doi: 10.1007/s10865-018-9970-3
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