Comprehensive primary health care in local communities: how do general practitioners work with and perceive primary health care services directly funded by government?


Prof Fran Baum and Prof Michael Kidd are leading a team of researchers from Flinders University , in collaboration with interstate and international researchers, in a research study to investigate links between primary health care (PHC) services directly funded by government and PHC services provided by general practitioners.


Broader NHMRC Study

The study is an adjunct to a five year NH&MRC funded research project 'Evaluating the effectiveness of comprehensive primary health care in local communities'. This larger study runs from 2009 to 2013 and will work with six PHC services to develop logic models of good practice in delivering comprehensive PHC. Click here for more information about the broader study.


Research overview

SA Health is providing funding in 2009/10 to enable the research team to investigate the general practice perspective on comprehensive PHC and how fee-for-service GPs and state-funded PHC services can best work together to improve outcomes for clients and patients. There is a particular focus on the patient journey for people with depression and diabetes.

The question addressed by this study is "How does fee-for-service general practice interact with and perceive PHC services that are managed and funded directly by government?"

In particular this study seeks to understand:

  • the current role of general practice within PHC service networks,
  • current treatment pathways and health promotion activities associated with two chronic conditions - diabetes and depression,
  • the ways in which working with GPs fits into the plans and program logic of PHC services funded by government,
  • the perceptions of GPs about the ways in which their work can be made more effective in the context of local networks of PHC services; and
  • the enablers and barriers to establishing a more comprehensive PHC system which integrates the work of GPs and PHC services funded by government.

Respondents will also be invited to attend the first research symposium for the broader study, planned for August 2010.

NH&MRC funding will be sought to extend the general practice component through to 2013.

We anticipate that the study will provide valuable insights into how the two streams of PHC service delivery can work together for the improvement of health and health equity within local communities.


Update 1:

  • In December 2009, an item was posted in the Newsletters for the 3 GP Divisions that support GPs in the study areas to begin the process of engaging General Practice.
  • Avenues for the best ways to engage with GPs and other methodological issues have been explored in discussions between General Practice educators and academics at Flinders University and the research team.
  • A project officer has now been appointed to undertake the main tasks with support from other members of the project team.
  • The research ethics application was submitted to Flinders University SBREC in February 2010.

Next Steps

  • Assemble Project Advisory Group.
  • Confirm date for Research Symposium.
  • Submit NH&MRC application.
  • Design interview schedules.


Update 2:

  • A project update was provided for the 3 GP Division's newsletters in late February 2010 to inform General Practice of the study's progress to date.
  • Ethics approval for the project has been given.
  • Date has been finalised for the Research Symposium - October 21st and 22nd, 2010. Early findings from the study will be presented. All study participants will be invited to attend and provide feedback.
  • Invitations sent to potential members to join the Project Advisory Group (PAG).
  • PAG formed and the first meeting of the PAG was held in April, 2010.
  • Interview schedules have been designed in collaboration with the PAG.
  • Due to delays in formalising the contract with SA Health, the project timeline has been extended to 30th September 2010.

Next Steps

  • Begin recruitment of participants.
  • Conduct Pilot interviews
  • Ensure relevance of interview schedules for obtaining data required.
  • Begin formal interview process with GPs, Practice Nurses and GP Divisions.

Update 3:

  • 2nd meeting of PAG held in June 2010
  • 6 pilot interviews conducted and analysed
  • Interview tools finalised
  • Recruitment of participants under way
  • Interviews under way

Next Steps

  • Continue to recruit and interview
  • Data analysis
  • Final PAG meeting 30 August
  • Draft report writing

Who to contact

If you would like to find out more about this project, or have any comments or questions, please contact Dr Marlene Wiese:

ph: (08) 7221 8469