About The Access Study


Current NHS drives and initiatives mean that general practice patients in England are increasingly being offered the opportunity to access medical test results electronically, through online access and other methods such as text messaging.

Giving patients the option to have direct access to their medical test results might lead to better health outcomes, increased service satisfaction and increased health literacy levels, and reduce misunderstanding between patients and doctors that may result in litigation. However, it may also have the potential to result in unintended negative consequences, and the evidence on both sides is currently limited.

Study aims

Employing a realist evaluation methodology, the study aims to:

  1. describe the range of services currently being offered to provide electronic medical test results to general practice patients in England
  2. understand patient and clinician experiences, attitudes and perceptions of different test result services 
  3. develop a framework to assess the economic impact of adopting these services.

Study phases

To meet the study aims, this project has three main phases:

  • Phase 1: using quantitative methods, we will identify the types of medical test result services that are currently offered to patients by GP practices and the characteristics of the patients and practices using these services.
  • Phase 2: we will undertake qualitative interviews to find out about patients’ and practice staff's views about patient electronic access to results.
  • Phase 3: we will use the information from phases one and two to develop an economic framework, which could be used to conduct a full economic evaluation of patient electronic access to test results in the future.

What is the timescale for the project?

The Access Study started in April 2018 and will run until April 2020.

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