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Aust Fam Physician. 2014 Jul;43(7):483-6.

General practice and public health: who is my patient?

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MBBS, DCH, Public Health Registrar, Nossal Institute for Global Health, The University of Melbourne, VIC.



General practitioners (GPs) tend to focus most of their energies on providing primary healthcare to individuals, with less attention to the overall population health issues in their community. In contrast, public health practitioners tend to focus on the health needs of entire populations, by addressing the social determinants of health, with less attention to individual patient care.


This article seeks to provide a practical approach for GPs to incorporate a public health perspective in their everyday work.


GPs have an important role in public health both through individual patient care and by engaging with public health issues at local, community and global levels. Adopting a population perspective to healthcare is an important part of modern general practice.

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