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J Am Board Fam Med. 2019 Nov-Dec;32(6):941-943. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2019.06.190141.

Accuracy of Reporting Primary Care Specialty Status in Medical Research.

Author information

1
From the University of Washington, Seattle, WA (AMD, HST, AY, ASA); Department of Family Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA (WRP).
2
From the University of Washington, Seattle, WA (AMD, HST, AY, ASA); Department of Family Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA (WRP) wphllps@uw.edu.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Family physicians (FPs) are specialty trained and certified and provide most primary care (PC) services in the United States. General practitioners (GPs), a separate group without specialty PC training, are commonly confused with FPs despite differences in demographic characteristics, professional qualifications, and clinical services. Our study documents how often research in major medical journals distinguishes between these 2 groups or combines GPs and FPs together.

METHODS:

We selected 23 US journals on impact factor and relevance to PC. Using a MEDLINE search, we identified all reports published in 2016 through 2017 that met inclusion criteria: original research; done in United States; studying FPs, GPs, and/or PC physicians. Two researchers reviewed each article to determine inclusion and whether it lumped or split FPs and GPs.

RESULTS:

Search retrieved 409 total studies, with 88 (21.5%) meeting inclusion criteria. Among these, 35 (39.8%) included FPs only, leaving 53 (60.2%) that also included GPs. Among these studies, only 3 (5.7%) separated GPs from FPs. Another 21 (39.6%) combined GPs and FPs together. In 29 (54.7%), the classification of GPs, FPs and others was not described.

CONCLUSIONS:

Most PC research reports combine GPs and FPs into a single group, masking differences between these distinct groups. Most research reports fail to explain how they classify PC clinicians. Research reports need to improve classification of FPs and PC clinicians.

KEYWORDS:

Family Physicians; General Practitioners; Internship and Residency; Journal Impact Factor; MEDLINE; Primary Health Care; Research Report; Specialization

PMID:
31704764
DOI:
10.3122/jabfm.2019.06.190141
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