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Fam Pract. 1999 Aug;16(4):420-5.

The 'new genetics' and primary care: GPs' views on their role and their educational needs.

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  • 1Division of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Oxford, Institute of Health Sciences, Headington, UK.



Given the limited specialist resources available to cope with the rising demand for genetic services, it has been proposed that at least some of these services are provided by primary care in the future.


We aimed to explore GPs' attitudes towards new developments in genetics, to establish the role they envisage for primary care and to clearly define the education, information and training needed to support them in this role.


We carried out a qualitative study with GPs using four focus groups (26 GPs) and 15 individual semi-structured interviews.


GPs perceive genetics as an important and increasingly relevant topic for primary care. Views on the appropriate level of involvement for primary care are mixed. GPs currently lack the relevant knowledge and skills to manage patients concerned about their family history. Other potential barriers to increasing primary care involvement included the time and costs involved, and ethical and legal concerns.


If primary care is to become more involved in the delivery of genetic services in the future, then a major educational effort is required to raise awareness of the potential scope and limitations of new developments.

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