Connect
MJA
MJA

Prioritising general practice research

Tania M Winzenberg and Gerard F Gill
Med J Aust 2016; 205 (2): 55-57. || doi: 10.5694/mja16.00578

Cuts to federal funding put us in grave danger of wasting the investment made to achieve current gains in research capacity

General practice is critical to the provision of primary health care (PHC) for Australians. About 85% of the Australian population claim at least one general practice service from Medicare per year.1 Over 137 million such consultations were delivered by 33 279 general practitioners in 2014–15.1 In 2011–12, PHC spending was $50.6 billion (36.1% of total health expenditure), with $28.6 billion spent on predominantly general practice-based medical services and medications.2 Multiple studies have shown that a strong PHC system is associated with greater efficiency, lower rates of hospitalisation, fewer health inequalities and better health outcomes, including lower mortality.3 Thus, ensuring that the cornerstone of PHC delivery, general practice, has a robust evidence base is of paramount importance. Despite this, there are major gaps in the evidence supporting clinical practice and health service delivery in general practice.

Please login with your free MJA account to view this article in full

  • Tania M Winzenberg1
  • Gerard F Gill2

  • 1 Menzies Institute for Medical Research and Faculty of Health, University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS
  • 2 Deakin University, Geelong, VIC


Competing interests:

Tania Winzenberg is Chair of the RACGP Expert Committee – Research and a member of the Australasian Association for Academic Primary Care and has at various points in her career been supported by the PHCRED program. Gerard Gill has previously been a member of the RACGP Council (2002), the RACGP National Research Committee (1994–2000) and the Australian Medical Association Council of General Practice (1991).

  • 1. Britt H, Miller GC, Henderson J, et al. General practice activity in Australia 2014–15. General practice series no. 38. Sydney: Sydney University Press, 2015. http://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/bitstream/2123/13765/4/9781743324530_ONLINE.pdf (accessed May 2016).
  • 2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Australia’s health 2014 (AIHW Cat. No. AUS 178; Australia’s Health Series No. 14). Canberra: AIHW, 2014. http://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=60129548150 (accessed May 2016).
  • 3. Harris MF, Harris E. Facing the challenges: general practice in 2020. Med J Aust 2006; 185: 122-124. <MJA full text>
  • 4. Rochon PA, Mashari A, Cohen A, et al. Relation between randomized controlled trials published in leading general medical journals and the global burden of disease. CMAJ 2004; 170: 1673-1677.
  • 5. Emdin CA, Odutayo A, Hsiao AJ, et al. Association between randomised trial evidence and global burden of disease: cross sectional study (Epidemiological Study of Randomized Trials–ESORT). BMJ 2015; 350: h117.
  • 6. Cooke G, Valenti L, Glasziou P, Britt H. Common general practice presentations and publication frequency. Aust Fam Physician 2013; 42: 65-68.
  • 7. Harris MF, Dennis S, Pillay M. Multimorbidity: negotiating priorities and making progress. Aust Fam Physician 2013; 42: 850-854.
  • 8. Steel N, Abdelhamid A, Stokes T, et al. A review of clinical practice guidelines found that they were often based on evidence of uncertain relevance to primary care patients. J Clin Epidemiol 2014; 67: 1251-1257.
  • 9. Dowd R, Recker RR, Heaney RP. Study subjects and ordinary patients. Osteoporos Int 2000; 11: 533-536.
  • 10. Gialamas A, Beilby JJ, Pratt NL, et al. Investigating tiredness in Australian general practice. Do pathology tests help in diagnosis? Aust Fam Physician 2003; 32: 663-666.
  • 11. Winzenberg T. Understanding the context of general practice research. Aust Fam Physician 2001; 30: 621-623.
  • 12. General Practice Strategy Review Group. General practice: changing the future through partnerships: report of the General Practice Strategy Review Group. Canberra: Department of Health and Family Services, 1998.
  • 13. Heal C, Buettner P, Raasch B, et al. Can sutures get wet? Prospective randomised controlled trial of wound management in general practice. BMJ 2006; 332: 1053-1056.
  • 14. Heal C, Sriharan S, Buttner PG, Kimber D. Comparing non-sterile to sterile gloves for minor surgery: a prospective randomised controlled non-inferiority trial. Med J Aust 2015; 202: 27-31. <MJA full text>
  • 15. Hegarty K, O’Doherty L, Taft A, et al. Screening and counselling in the primary care setting for women who have experienced intimate partner violence (WEAVE): a cluster randomised controlled trial. Lancet 2013; 382: 249-258.
  • 16. Hinman RS, McCrory P, Pirotta M, et al. Acupuncture for chronic knee pain: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA 2014; 312: 1313-1322.
  • 17. Family Medicine Research Centre, University of Sydney. Closure of BEACH program after 18 years [media release]. 11 Apr 2016. http://sydney.edu.au/medicine/fmrc/media/BEACH-closure-2016-04.php (accessed May 2016).
  • 18. 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>
  • 19. Gill GF. Australian general practitioner doctorates and doctoral candidates, 2005–2009. Med J Aust 2012; 196: 173. <MJA full text>
  • 20. Gill GF, editor. Successful Australian GP doctorate candidates 2010-2014 [abstract 142]. GP15: The RACGP Conference for General Practice: Our Future in Practice. 21–23 September 2015; Melbourne. http://racgpconference.com.au/app/ (accessed May 2016).
  • 21. McIntyre EL, Mazza D, Harris NP. NHMRC funding for primary health care research, 2000–2008. Med J Aust 2011; 195: 230. <MJA full text>
  • 22. National Health and Medical Research Council. Outcomes of funding rounds. Summary of outcomes for NHMRC research – 2008 to 2014. http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/grants-funding/outcomes-funding-rounds (accessed Jun 2016).
  • 23. National Health and Medical Research Council. NHMRC/Primary Health Care Research, Evaluation and Development Fellowships. https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/grants-funding/outcomes-funding-rounds/nhmrcprimary-health-care-research-evaluation-and-development- (accessed Jun 2016).
  • 24. Aspree Investigator Group. Study design of ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE): a randomized, controlled trial. Contemp Clin Trials 2013; 36: 555-564.
  • 25. Peterson KA, Lipman PD, Lange CJ, et al. Supporting better science in primary care: a description of practice-based research networks (PBRNs) in 2011. J Am Board Fam Med 2012; 25: 565-571.
  • 26. Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. 2016–17 pre-budget submission. Melbourne: RACGP, 2016. http://www.racgp.org.au/download/Documents/Reports/racgp-pre-budget-submission-2016-17.pdf (accessed May 2016).
  • 27. Australian Government Department of Health. Medical Research Future Fund. http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/mrff (accessed May 2016).

Author

remove_circle_outline Delete Author
add_circle_outline Add Author

Comment
Do you have any competing interests to declare? *

I/we agree to assign copyright to the Medical Journal of Australia and agree to the Conditions of publication *
I/we agree to the Terms of use of the Medical Journal of Australia *
Email me when people comment on this article

Responses are now closed for this article.