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Prioritising general practice research

Tania M Winzenberg and Gerard Francis Gill
Med J Aust 2016; 205 (11): 529. || doi: 10.5694/mja16.00984
Published online: 12 December 2016

Fielke points out the need for further research in the area of patient safety and quality improvement in primary care. We certainly agree with this. The aim of our article1 was to highlight the premature defunding of capacity-building initiatives in primary care in terms of completing the successful development of a sustainable research workforce in general practice. The reasons why this is important for the health of Australians are described briefly in our article, as are some of the areas in which there are evidence gaps, with a particular focus on clinical problems. There was no intent for this to be a comprehensive list of the areas that require research specific to general practice and primary care, and there are substantial, important evidence gaps across a range of other areas. Research to support patient safety and quality improvement is certainly required. Other areas that also need research attention include, but are not limited to, implementation research to deal with evidence–practice gaps;2 workforce issues and improved access to primary care;3,4 integration of general practice, allied health, pharmacy and other disciplines to improve patient care;4 models of service delivery, including the imminent trials of the “medical home” concept; and medical and other health professional education in relation to general practice and primary care. The challenge for all of us who care about optimising primary health care for Australians is to use every possible avenue to strategically and effectively lobby the necessary range of government and other agencies so that the resources to address the diverse evidence needs of primary care are met into the future.

  • Tania M Winzenberg1
  • Gerard Francis Gill2

  • 1 Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS
  • 2 General Practice Deakin University, Geelong, VIC


Competing interests:

Tania Winzenberg is Chair of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Expert Committee — Research and a member of the Australasian Association for Academic Primary Care. At various points in her career, she has been supported by the Primary Health Care Research and Information Service program. Gerard Gill has been a member of the RACGP Council (2002), the RACGP National Research Committee (1994–2000), and of the Australian Medical Association Council of General Practice (1991).

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