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Aust Fam Physician. 2002 Jul;31(7):669-73.

Single cases in general practice and general medical journals.

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  • 1Department of General Practice, Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, PO Box 7343, Newtown, Wellington, New Zealand.



To compare single cases published in general practice and general medical journals.


A systematic review of single cases in nine general practice and four general medical journals and a qualitative investigator triangulation for content.


Just over seven percent of 10,607 publications involved single cases in both journal groups. Single cases were mainly published as reports or reviews in general practice journals and letters in general medical journals. Two percent of single cases were published as original research papers in general medical journals and none in general practice journals. No journal was prescriptive on the data elements required of a case write-up and few provided guidelines as to consent needs. Patient gender was reported in 97%, age in 85%, occupation in 17%, ethnicity in 10%, and consent in 5% of cases. Twelve percent of authors were general practitioners and 72% were specialists. Authors in general practice journals knew their cases longer compared with those in general medicine journals. General practitioners published over a wide range of case types including diagnostic error and relationship cases. In contrast, specialists published mainly on harm or unusual case types, but none on relationships.


Single cases are common in the medical literature. The reporting of data elements (particularly consent) needs improvement. Comparatively few GPs publish single cases.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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