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RCGP warning on lack of GP researchers

By Nigel Praities

The RGCP is warning more GP researchers are needed to avoid evidence being skewed away from primary care, as a Pulse investigation found GPs are hugely under-represented on academic papers.

Professor Steve Field gave a call to action to GP leaders at the LMC Secretaries conference in London last week, urging GPs to work more closely with universities to ensure the evidence base reflected the primary care perspective.

His comments came as Pulse collected figures showing fewer than a fifth of academic papers in major medical journals included any primary care input.

Only 14% of research and review papers published in the BMJ in November were by primary care researchers, none of those in The Lancet and 16% in JAMA.

Very few GPs are employed to conduct research by universities. Of those able to provide figures, Imperial College London had the greatest number, with 10 to 15 GP academics, but this was only 5% of their large pool of clinical researchers.

The University of Warwick had 11 GP researchers and the University of Bristol had nine. Durham had only three GP researchers and York one.

Professor Field said the UK was ‘very poor' at conducting primary care research and that this had a direct effect on the quality of care GPs offered.

‘We are an academic discipline based on science and evidence, but when we start practising we put that to the back of our minds.

‘GPs need to recognise that we should be looking for new evidence and working closer with academic departments,' he said.

Professor Steve Field Video Interview: Professor Steve Field

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