Open Access Open Badges Research article

Patient and professional attitudes towards research in general practice: the RepR qualitative study

Jean-Sébastien Cadwallader12*, Jean-Pierre Lebeau3, Evelyne Lasserre4 and Laurent Letrilliart25

Author Affiliations

1 Department of General Practice, University of Tours, 10 Boulevard Tonnellé, BP 3223, Tours, Cedex 1 37032, France

2 SIS EA 4129 laboratory, University of Lyon, Lyon, France

3 Department of General Practice, EES, University of Tours, 10 Boulevard Tonnellé, BP 3223, Tours, Cedex 1 37032, France

4 Department of Anthropology, University of Lyon, Lyon, France

5 Department of General Practice, University of Lyon, Lyon, France

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BMC Family Practice 2014, 15:136  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-15-136

Published: 21 July 2014



Since the 1990s, professional institutions worldwide have emphasised the need to develop research in general practice to improve the health of the population. The recent creation of professorships in general practice in French Universities should foster research in this field. Our aim was to explore the views of patients and relevant professionals on research in general practice.


Qualitative study, using the grounded theory approach according to Strauss and Corbin, conducted in 2010 in three French regions. Nine focus groups were run to data saturation, and included 57 participants in four different categories: patients, non-academic GPs, academic GPs, academics in other disciplines.


Most of the participants in the four categories described research in general practice as specific to the population managed and relevant for health care. They considered that its grounding in day-to-day practice enabled pragmatic approaches. The influence of the pharmaceutical industry, rivalries between university disciplines and a possible gap between research and practice were considered as pitfalls. The barriers identified were representations of the medical researcher as a “laboratory worker”, the lack of awareness of any research in the discipline, and lack of time and training. While the views of patients and non-academic GPs are mostly focused on professional issues and the views of academics other than GPs on technical issues, academic GPs are in a position to play a role of interface between the universities and general practices.


Although the role of GPs in research is perceived differently by the various protagonists, research in general practice has an undisputed legitimacy in France. Solutions for overcoming the identified barriers include research networks with appropriate resources and training and scientifically sound collaborative research projects, as already implemented in leading countries.

General practice/Family medicine; Research; Qualitative study; Attitudes of Health Personnel