Sports injuries

January/February 2010


Developing the guidelines for preventive care

Two decades of experience

Volume 39, No.1, January/February 2010 Pages 63-65

Mark F Harris

Linda Bailey

Teri Snowdon

John Litt

Jane Smith

Beres Joyner

John Furler


The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Guidelines for preventive activities in general practice (the ‘red book’) are now more than 20 years old. Therefore it is an important juncture to reflect on their appropriateness and implementation, and how they can be improved in future editions.


This review analyses the guidelines and their development against criteria identified by the AGREE collaboration to ensure the quality and applicability for use in Australian general practice.


The ‘red book’ is widely accepted as supporting the provision of preventive care and is now a key element of the quality system in Australian general practice. This independent guideline has rigor, relevance and applicability to general practice. However, its impact on practice could be improved by broader consultation and by using a wider range of means for dissemination and implementation. This needs to be informed by more rigorous evaluation of its implementation and impact on practice.

General practice provides consultations to approximately 86% of Australians each year1 across the continuum from prevention of illness to treatment and rehabilitation. Opportunistic preventive care, especially in high risk groups, is ideally located in general practice.2–5 The role of general practice in prevention has been recognised by the Council of Australian Governments6 and by the Australian Government’s Preventative Health Task Force and Primary Health Care Strategy.7–8

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