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Open Access Short Report

The profile of general practitioners (GPs) who publish in selected family practice journals

J Soler-González*, C Ruiz, C Serna and JR Marsal

Author Affiliations

GREDELL Research Group. Regional Primary Care Management Office, IDIAP Jordi Gol, Catalan Institute of Health, University of Lleida, Lleida, Spain

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BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:164  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-164

Published: 26 May 2011

Abstract

Background

Providing support for research is one of the key issues in the ongoing attempts to improve Primary Care. However, when patient care takes up a significant part of a GP's time, conducting research is difficult. In this study we examine the working conditions and profile of GPs who publish in three leading medical journals and propose possible remedial policy actions.

Findings

The authors of all articles published in 2006 and 2007 in three international Family Medicine journals - Annals of Family Medicine, Family Practice, and Journal of Family Practice - were contacted by E-mail. They were asked to complete a questionnaire investigating the following variables: availability of specific time for research, time devoted to research, number of patients attended, and university affiliation. Only GPs were included in the study. Three hundred and ten relevant articles published between 2006 and 2007 were identified and the authors contacted using a survey tool. 124 researchers responded to our questionnaire; 45% of respondents who were not GPs were excluded. On average GPs spent 2.52 days per week and 6.9 hours per day on patient care, seeing 45 patients per week. Seventy-five per cent of GPs had specific time assigned to research, on average 13 hours per week; 79% were affiliated to a university and 69% held teaching positions.

Conclusions

Most GPs who publish original articles in leading journals have time specifically assigned to research as part of their normal working schedule. They see a relatively small number of patients. Improving the working conditions of family physicians who intend to investigate is likely to lead to better research results.