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RACGP Submission to the Strategic Review of Health and Medical Research in Australia (“McKeon Review”)

2 April 2012

Primary health care is central to the Australian health care system, as the bulk of health care occurs in the community. Primary care research can therefore have high leverage, and lead to the development of high quality, evidence based health care that translates into clinically and cost effective services that support patients in the Australian system. As the majority of illnesses are now managed in primary healthcare settings, there is a need to diversify government investment to include greater scope for primary healthcare research.

The RACGP recommends increasing the capacity to conduct primary care research in Australia, which in turn will impact on the quality of primary care. Strategies for building general practice research capacity include support for general practitioner-based research networks, establishment of collaborative research networks and provision of career support for academic general practitioners. Funding primary care research at a level that better reflects the role of primary care in the health system will also build capacity, and ensuring research findings are effectively disseminated will ensure that investment in research is not wasted. A strong primary care research sector which links to practice based research networks will provide increased opportunities for research findings to be translated into practice. In addition, the RACGP supports research that makes a difference to health outcomes, policy and practice, and the capacity of general practice to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health issues.