Intended for healthcare professionals


Is primary care research a lost cause?

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 18 November 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b4810
  1. Chris Del Mar, dean of primary care research
  1. 1Faculty of Health Science and Medicine, Bond University, Australia
  1. cdelmar{at}

    A new report points to a direction out of the doldrums

    Six years ago Richard Horton asked the provocative question, “is primary care research a lost cause?”1 The result was an initial mixture of dismay and an indignant sense of betrayal among primary care researchers, then some deeper reflection. General practice research was once great, as shown by a report from the Academy of Medical Sciences,2 which is based on a conference held last year.3 Exemplary general practitioner researchers include Sir James McKenzie (who did primary research in cardiology, especially arrhythmias, in the late 19th century), William Pickles (who showed that hepatitis A was an infectious disease with a three week incubation period by meticulous record keeping in Wensleydale in 1930), and more recently Julian Tudor Hart (with his 1960s view of …

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