School of Medicine
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Joe Kai

Clinical Professor, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences



Joe Kai has been an inner city general practitioner since 1991, and Professor of Primary Care at Nottingham since 2003. He was Founding Chair and Head of Primary Care at the new Graduate Entry Medical School (2003-2010) before becoming Head of Primary Care in the School of Medicine (2012 to August 2020). The Division of Primary Care delivers internationally excellent research, and teaching and training of medical students across all five years of the BMBS course at Nottingham.

Joe has led Nottingham in its third successful application to be part of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Primary Care. The most recent five year programme (2021-2026) is a partnership between the country's leading primary care units to enhance research capacity and deliver high quality research evidence for primary care.

Joe trained at Newcastle University, became a GP principal at Adelaide Medical Centre in the city, and helped set up the West End Health Resource Centre. As a lecturer, he developed interests in medical education, responding to ethnic diversity, and qualitative research. He won the inaugural RCGP award for best research in primary care in 1997 for his doctoral work on parents dealing with acute illness in young children.

As a senior lecturer at Birmingham University (1999-2002) he helped establish the Midlands Research Practices Consortium (MidRec) as its clinical director, facilitating implementation of some of the first major MRC and HTA commissioned trials in primary care, and worked as a GP in Quinton.

In 2003 he became Foundation Chair and Head of Primary Care at University of Nottingham's new graduate entry medical school. He supported its innovative curriculum and GP led clinical course at Derby. Moving to Nottingham's main campus in 2010, he became Head of the Division of Primary Care there in 2012, which has developed to over 100 academic, teaching and research staff, including 7 chairs.

Joe remains a part-time inner city GP at Derby Family Medical Centre working with predominantly South Asian, socially disadvantaged and minority ethnic communities.

In addition to health research, Joe has on-going interests in health professional training and service improvement. He developed and led national training to support genetic assessment and screening by health professionals in the NHS, using haemoglobin disorders as a model ( His other work includes the BMA award winning Primary Care in Urban Disadvantaged Communities (Radcliffe); Ethnicity, Health and Primary Care (Oxford); and interactive health professional training to reduce ethnic inequalities in health care - the BUPA award-winning Valuing Diversity (2nd ed, Royal College of General Practitioners, 2006); PROCEED: Professionals responding to cancer and diversity (Cancer Research UK), and e-learning on health inequalities, language barriers and cross-cultural communication for the national GP curriculum (e-GP, RCGP). He led the primary care research programme of the NIHR CLAHRC for Notts-Derbys-Lincs till 2013, and public health programme on service improvement for obesity with East Midlands Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) till 2017.

Joe co-leads the Primary Care Stratified Medicine (PRISM) research group at Nottingham to improve effective and equitable health care and disease prevention. PRISM does this by developing and using advances in genomics and data science to better identify people's risk of disease and their response to interventions.

In 2015, Joe's research was named among the BMJ's top 20 outstanding papers of the past 20 years.

Expertise Summary

Expertise in clinical and applied health research, teaching and service development in relation to:

  • Primary care stratified medicine
  • Applied genetics in primary care - use of family history; common inherited problems such as haemoglobin disorders, familial hypercholesteroalemia
  • Reducing inequality and responding to ethnic diversity in health and health care
  • Women's health
  • Qualitative and community participatory methods
  • Primary care based trials

Teaching Summary

Undergraduate teaching includes Early Clinical and Professional Development course

Cross-cultural health care; ethnic diversity, inequality and health

Applied genetics; haemoglobin disorders (sickle cell & thalassaemia); women's healthCurrent postgraduate teaching includes:

Masters in Public Health (Health Inequalities)

Masters in Clinical Genetics (Population Screening and Primary Care)

Research Summary

Joe is academic lead for Nottingham's portfolio of research with the NIHR School for Primary Care Research, supporting its development and management, involving 8 leading research groups at… read more

Selected Publications

Current Research

Joe is academic lead for Nottingham's portfolio of research with the NIHR School for Primary Care Research, supporting its development and management, involving 8 leading research groups at Nottingham.

He also co-leads the Primary Care Stratified Medicine (PRISM) research group with Prof Nadeem Qureshi. Current activity includes research on:

  • Improving identification of women in primary care at risk of familial breast cancer
  • Improving detection and earlier diagnosis of familial hypercholesterolaemia
  • Improving cascade testing for familial hypercholesterolaemia
  • Application of data science to personalise health care by improving stratification of disease risk and treatment response

Joe's other ongoing applied research includes work in women's health and mental health

  • Leading long term follow up of women in the ECLIPSE trial of medical management of heavy menstrual bleeding in primary care (NIHR HTA Programme 2016-2021)

For more information and a summary of this research see:

  • VITA randomised controlled trial of oral metronidazole vs topical lactic acid gel for bacterial vagninosis (NIHR HTA Programme, Prof Jonathan Ross, Birmingham)

ARMSTRONG-BUISSERET, L., BRITTAIN, C., KAI, J., DAVID, M., ANSTEY WATKINS, J., OZOLINS, M., JACKSON, L., ABDALI, Z., HEPBURN, T., GRIFFITHS, F., MONTGOMERY, A., DANIELS, J., MANLEY, A., DEAN, G. and ROSS, J.D.C., 2022. Lactic acid gel versus metronidazole for recurrent bacterial vaginosis in women aged 16 years and over: the VITA RCT Health Technology Assessment. 26, 2

Ross J et al. 2023. Intravaginal lactic acid gel versus oral metronidazole for treating women with recurrent bacterial vaginosis: the VITA randomised controlled trial. BMC Women's Health.

  • RCT of clinical and cost effectiveness of Alpha-Stim cranial electrotherapy stimulation in treatment seeking patients with moderate severity depression in primary care (NIHR ARC, Prof Richard Morriss, Nottingham)

Morriss, R., Patel, S., Boutry, C., Patel, P., Guo, B., Briley, P. M., …Kai, J. (2023). Clinical effectiveness of active Alpha-Stim AID versus sham Alpha-Stim AID in major depression in primary care in England (Alpha-Stim-D): a multicentre, parallel group, double-blind, randomised controlled trial. Lancet Psychiatry, 10(3), 172-183.

  • Psychological intervention for health anxiety in persistent high users of unscheduled care (NIHR CLAHRC, Prof Richard Morriss, University of Nottingham)

MORRISS, R., PATEL, S., MALINS, S., GUO, B., HIGTON, F., JAMES, M., WU, M., BROWN, P., BOYCOTT, N., KAYLOR-HUGHES, C., MORRIS, M., ROWLEY, E., SIMPSON, J., SMART, D., STUBLEY, M., KAI, J. and TYRER, H., 2019. Clinical and economic outcomes of remotely delivered cognitive behaviour therapy versus treatment as usual for repeat unscheduled care users with severe health anxiety: a multicentre randomised controlled trial BMC Medicine. 17(1), 16

  • ROSHNI-D: multi-centre RCT of group psychological intervention for postnatal depression in British mothers of South Asian origin (NIHR HTA Programme, Prof Nusrat Hussain, University of Manchester)
  • CONCORD: mixed methods study of Coordinated Care of Rare Diseases (NIHR Health Services Delivery & Research Programme, Prof Stephen Morris, University College London)

Past Research

  • Women's health: Joe co-led the world's largest trial of medical management of heavy menstrual bleeding in primary care (ECLIPSE trial with J Gupta and clinical trials unit at University of Birmingham). Commissioned by NIHR-HTA Programme, this £1.8m trial involved over 60 centres, with over 15% of participants from ethnic minorities. The first results provided the most robust evidence available for first line treatment of this common problem for women, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2013. See . Major long-term follow up of outcomes for women and health services is still ongoing in primary care.
  • Developing community informed interventions to reduce disease risk in deprived South Asian communities
  • Developing preconception health interventions in primary care, including among ethnic communities at high risk
  • Universal screening for common inherited haemoglobin disorders (sickle cell and thalassaemia)
  • Use and communication of genetic information in primary care
  • Access to genetic health care in minority communities with familial cancer risk
  • Use of family history in primary care (e.g. in cardiovascular assessment; and inherited predisposition to cancer)
  • Developing and implementing health professional training interventions to improve health care of ethnically diverse communities (Valuing Diversity, RCGP 2006; PROCEED, CRUK, 2005))
  • Responding to cancer and ethnic diversity (e.g. Kai et al PLoSMed 2007; Kai et al Br J Cancer 2012)
  • Community participatory methods to engage & train minority communities in research (Kai & Hedges, Health Expectations 1999; Bush et al, BMJ 2003)
  • Influences on smoking and physical activity in South Asian communities
  • Primary care of mental ill health
  • Primary care of acutely ill children - listening to and supporting parents (e.g. Kai BMJ 1996)

School of Medicine

University of Nottingham
Medical School
Nottingham, NG7 2UH

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