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Prioritising general practice research

Cuts to federal funding put us in grave danger of wasting the investment made to achieve current gains in research capacity

General practice is critical to the provision of primary health care (PHC) for Australians. About 85% of the Australian population claim at least one general practice service from Medicare per year.1 Over 137 million such consultations were delivered by 33 279 general practitioners in 2014–15.1 In 2011–12, PHC spending was $50.6 billion (36.1% of total health expenditure), with $28.6 billion spent on predominantly general practice-based medical services and medications.2 Multiple studies have shown that a strong PHC system is associated with greater efficiency, lower rates of hospitalisation, fewer health inequalities and better health outcomes, including lower mortality.3 Thus, ensuring that the cornerstone of PHC delivery, general practice, has a robust evidence base is of paramount importance. Despite this, there are major gaps in the evidence supporting clinical practice and health service delivery in general practice.

From the perspective of general practice, health and medical research appears poorly targeted. There is a mismatch between the burden of diseases commonly managed in general practice and the number of randomised controlled trials exploring their…