Has the investment in general practice research been worthwhile?

Christopher B Del Mar and Mieke L van Driel
Med J Aust 2010; 193 (2): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2010.tb03797.x
Published online: 19 July 2010

It may be time to invest more in primary care research, including research on clinical conditions

Here is a simple exercise: in the PubMed website (, type “The New England Journal of Medicine[Jour] AND Australia[All Fields]”, and you will see that the journal has published about 90 Australian articles since 2000. Scanning through them, you will find that just one includes an Australian general practitioner as an author (Professor John Marley, in 10th author position), for an article describing the large blood pressure trial ANBP2.1 Repeating this exercise for JAMA (the journal of the American Medical Association) yields one Australian GP author in one of 79 Australian papers (Professor Chris Silagy as first author), in an analysis of protocols of published systematic reviews and reports.2

  • Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, Bond University, Gold Coast, QLD.


  • 1. Wing LM, Reid CM, Ryan P, et al. Second Australian National Blood Pressure Study Group. A comparison of outcomes with angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and diuretics for hypertension in the elderly. N Engl J Med 2003; 348: 583-592.
  • 2. Silagy CA, Middleton P, Hopewell S. Publishing protocols of systematic reviews: comparing what was done to what was planned. JAMA 2002; 287: 2831-2834.
  • 3. Van Der Weyden MB. Promoting an evidence base for general practice. Med J Aust 1999; 171: 60-61.
  • 4. Askew DA, Glasziou PP, Del Mar CB. Research output of Australian general practice: a comparison with medicine, surgery and public health. Med J Aust 2001; 175: 77-80.
  • 5. Van Driel ML, Maier M, De Maeseneer J. Measuring the impact of family medicine research: scientific citations or societal impact? Fam Pract 2007; 24: 401-402.
  • 6. Senate Select Committee on Health Legislation and Health Insurance. Vocational registration of general practitioners: final report [parliamentary paper]. Canberra: Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, 1990.
  • 7. Chew M, Armstrong RM. General practice research: in the big league at last? Med J Aust 2002; 177: 60-61. <MJA full text>
  • 8. Silagy CA, Schattner P, Baxter RG. An analysis of funding for general practice research in Australia. Aust Fam Physician 1992; 21: 1452-1460.
  • 9. Lowcay B, McIntyre E, Hale M, Ward AM. Peer reviewed publication rates. An indication of research output. Aust Fam Physician 2004; 33: 284-286.
  • 10. Raupach JC, Pilotto LS. Randomised trials within the general practice evaluation program. Why so few? Aust Fam Physician 2001; 30: 504-507.
  • 11. Beacham B, Kalucy L, Lowcay B. Priorities for research in the area of primary health care. How relevant are recently completed general practice evaluation program projects? Aust Fam Physician 2003; 32: 377-380.
  • 12. Askew DA, Schluter PJ, Gunn JM. Research productivity in Australian general practice: what has changed since the 1990s? Med J Aust 2008; 189: 103-104. <MJA full text>
  • 13. Creswell JW, Fetters MD, Ivankova NV. Designing a mixed methods study in primary care. Ann Fam Med 2004; 2: 7-12.
  • 14. Yen L, Kalucy L, Ward N, et al. Stocktake of primary health care research in Australia. Canberra: Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute, 2010. (accessed Jun 2010).
  • 15. Harnden A, Grant C, Harrison T, et al. Whooping cough in school age children with persistent cough: prospective cohort study in primary care. BMJ 2006; 333: 174-177.


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