The state of primary-care research

D Mant*, C Del Mar, P Glasziou, A Knottnerus, P Wallace, C van Weel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialResearch

76 Citations (Scopus)
243 Downloads (Pure)


In March, 2003, the editor of The Lancet attended an international conference in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, on primary-care research, subsequently running a rather dyspeptic editorial entitled “Is primary-care research a lost cause?”1 This article highlighted the unacceptable weakness of primary-care research worldwide. A particular concern of the conference was the shortage of primary care research in less economically developed countries to inform the clinical and public health management of malnutrition, malaria, AIDS, water-borne infection, and other illnesses of poverty.2 However, problems exist even in economically developed countries. In Australia, for example, a crude measure of research productivity with practising physicians as the denominator suggests that primary care is only 1% as productive as internal medicine, 0·5% as productive as public health and 1·6% as productive as surgery.3 But for The Lancet to characterise primary-care research as a “lost cause” is unhelpful. This notion implies either that the field is so weak that it cannot be resuscitated or that it is irrelevant anyway. Both are wrong.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1004-1006
Number of pages3
JournalThe Lancet
Issue number9438
Publication statusPublished - 11 Sept 2004


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