UBC Theses and Dissertations
The general practitioner’s potential for research in British Columbia Falk, William Andre
The study was designed to explore the proposition that conduct of and participation in research by general practitioners in British Columbia would be both desirable and feasible. Desirability was defined in terms of benefits for knowledge, for the medical practice, and for society at large. Feasibility was defined in terms of being acceptable for the general practitioner, for the patient, for the practice, and for the requirements of research. To answer specific questions related to desirability and feasibility of research by general practitioners, information was obtained from the literature, from a questionnaire survey of the total general practitioner population of British Columbia, and from a random sample of patients in practices selected at random from respondents to the questionnaire to general practitioners. In the survey of general practitioners, 2,344 questionnaires were mailed. Of the 563 (24%) which were returned, 508 were available for analysis. Five were returned by the post-office undelivered, seven were too late for analysis, and forty-three were returned with information indicating that the respondent was not in general practice. Forty- eight respondents were anonymous, and the remainder identified themselves. The response of general practitioners represented a variety of geographic locations, ages, types of practice, and medical schools. Members of the College of Family Physicians of Canada had a response rate of 39%. In the survey of patients, 15 out of 20 general practitioners who were contacted agreed to submit questionnaires to their patients. Of the patients surveyed, approximately 90% completed the questionnaires. Most were regular patients of the doctors, and represented a full range of ages, and both sexes. General practitioners and their patients agreed that research by general practitioners was desirable, and suggested many areas suitable for research. The benefits of research to the general practitioners, patients, and society were considered to be incentives, encouraging research activity. Important among the benefits were the discovery of new knowledge and the contribution to the academic base of general practice. The feasibility of research was explored in terms of the conditions required for its conduct. Attitudes were receptive to the concept of research, as many of the general practitioners had previously been involved in projects. Major deterrents were heavy workload and lack of time, for the general practitioners, and in their practices the high overhead and pressure of work on the staff were problems. Training for research was variable, with some general practitioners having none and a few having much training. Inadequacy of the usual office records was recognized, so that research would usually require special methods. General practitioners had little awareness of resources available for help, advice or financing, but most were aware of the need for such resources. Patients were willing to cooperate in studies. They suggested that the cost of research should be borne primarily by governments, and to a lesser extent by foundations and the public. Recommendations were made for the support of research, to help overcome the problems which decrease its feasibility. There should be encouragement of training in research methods, at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. This would include presentation of research findings to scientific meetings of medical societies, and visits to and from eminent research workers in general practice. Some assistance should be given to the general practitioners, such as help in developing office records for research or payment for time spent on research. Resources for help in planning studies and processing results should be readily available, including both consultant advice and the provision of grants. Conclusions from the study were that research by general practitioners in British Columbia is desirable, and that it is feasible but has several major deterrent factors which can inhibit research activity. Because of these factors, the great potential for research in British Columbia is still far from being realized.
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