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BACKGROUND: There is evidence that engaging in research is directly associated with better performance. If this relationship is to be strengthened, it is necessary to understand the mechanisms which might underlie that relationship. AIM: To explore the perspectives of staff and wider stakeholders about mechanisms by which research activity might impact on the performance of general practices. DESIGN & SETTING: Qualitative study using semi-structured interviews with general practice professionals and wider stakeholders in England. METHOD: Individual interviews with 41 purposively sampled staff in 'research ready' or 'research active' general practices and 21 other stakeholders. Interviews were independently coded by three researchers using a Framework approach. RESULTS: Participants described potential 'direct' and 'indirect' impacts on their work. 'Direct' impacts included research changing practice work (eg, additional records searches for particular conditions), bringing in additional resources (eg, access to investigations or staff) and improving relationships with patients. 'Indirect' impacts included job satisfaction (eg, perception of practice as a centre of excellence and innovation, and the variety afforded by research activity reducing burnout) and staff recruitment (increasing the attractiveness of the practice as a place to work). Respondents identified few negative impacts. CONCLUSIONS: Staff and stakeholders identified a range of potential impacts of research activity on practice performance, with impacts on their working lives most salient. Negative impacts were not generally raised. Nevertheless, respondents generally discussed potential impacts rather than providing specific examples of those impacts. This may reflect the type of research activity conducted in general practice, often led by external collaborators.

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Journal article



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general practice, qualitative, research activity