Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Feature Doctors and Research

“It’s the duty of every doctor to get involved with research”

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 27 November 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h6329

Rapid Response:

Re: “It’s the duty of every doctor to get involved with research”

Research is a skilled activity, and exceptionally time-consuming - full ethical approval, patient involvement, statistical expertise are nowadays essential, and exclude most practicing doctors from authorship or design of studies.
Research should be considered when an opportunity presents - and it is unethical for doctors to put unreasonable barriers up to valuable research. But every doctor? Surely not!
Among doctors in training all too often it is a compulsory, box ticking exercise. Good research is not designed and executed by conscripts. However, early in training doctors might discover an aptitude for research.
There is a value in practicing careful and diligent medicine too; service doctors will rarely gain fame or honour, but they do as valuable a job as a lollipop lady or a white van man.
There is also some professional skill in delivering services to patients well, which is diluted by and not aligned to being a research assistant.
If helping out with research planned, managed, analysed and written up by others for no remuneration becomes a duty it becomes a compulsory tax on practice and a heavy and usually unwelcome burden to bear.
Maybe researchers are from Mars, and physicians from Venus - of course there is some overlap, but we should celebrate the value of the different skills and aptitudes.

Competing interests: No competing interests

05 December 2015
Michael P Le Geyt
General Practitioner
Bedgrove surgery, Brentwood Way, Aylesbury