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Open Access Open Badges Research article

The variety of primary healthcare organisations in Australia: a taxonomy

John Rodwell* and Andre Gulyas

Author Affiliations

Faculty of Business, Australian Catholic University, Locked Bag 4115 Fitzroy MDC, Victoria, 3065, Australia

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BMC Health Services Research 2013, 13:130  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-130

Published: 8 April 2013



Healthcare policy appears to treat healthcare organisations as being homogenous, despite evidence that they vary considerably. This study develops a taxonomy of primary health care practices using characteristics associated with the job satisfaction of general medical practitioners (GPs) and the practices.


The study used data from 3,662 survey respondents who were GPs in the 2009 wave of the MABEL survey. Cluster analyses were used to determine natural groups of medical practices based on multidimensional characteristics.


Seven configurations of primary health care practices emerged from multivariate cluster analyses: optimised team, independent craft, reactive, winding down, classic, practitioner flexible, and scale efficiency.


This taxonomy of configurations moves beyond simplistic categorisations such as geographic location and highlights the complexity of primary health care organisations in Australia. Health policy, workforce and procedure interventions informed by taxonomies can engage the diversity of primary health care practices.

General practice; Health care organisations; Taxonomy; Configurations