Research in primary care: Extent of involvement and perceived determinants among practitioners from one English region
Jowett SM., Macleod J., Wilson S., Hobbs FDR.
The lack of research evidence relevant to and generated by general practitioners (GPs) has been a concern in the context of a putative primary care-led National Health Service (NHS). However, very little has been published on the current extent or determinants of research activity among United Kingdom primary care doctors. We surveyed all (n = 2770) service GPs in the West Midlands Region in order to quantify their research involvement and to explore determinants of this. The response rate was 49% (n = 1351). A total of 84% of responders reported participating in research or audit, with 16% having initiated their own research; 9% of GPs had been published in a peer-reviewed journal; 6% had generated research funding; and 3% had held a research training fellowship. The characteristics positively associated with initiating research included an involvement in teaching, having research-active partners, the availability of protected time, and working in a larger practice. The most commonly perceived barriers to undertaking research were lack of time (92%), lack of staff to collect data (73%), and a lack of funding (71%). In all, 41% of responders reported no interest in research. Overall, the extent of research activity among responding GPs appears to be greater than is often assumed. Recent NHS research and development proposals to strengthen and develop research in primary care are, therefore, relevant in highlighting changes to address these issues.