Background: Research in General Practice requires the participation of General practitioners (GPs). In Germany there is little tradition of research in this field, and GPs are not used to be participants in research. Little is known about German GPs attitudes towards research. Therefore the aim of our study was to assess the willingness of German General Practitioners to participate in primary care research and their attitude towards research in general practice. The results should enable a more successful approach to GPs in further studies.
Methods: Cross sectional study using semi-structured interviews with a random sample of 76 General Practitioners who participate in the teaching of medical students at the University of Heidelberg.
Results: Despite little experience, over 85 % of GPs appreciated research in their field. Important reasons for scepticism about research were the gap between theoretical research and practical work of GPs and the domination of research by specialists. Main barriers for participation are clinical workload, administrative overload and the newly introduced Disease Management Programs. The highest motivation for GPs to participate in research emanates from the will to substantiate their quality of care with solid research data.
Conclusions: Financial incentives and personal support e.g. with study nurses are certainly necessary to establish a research culture and to overcome main barriers against participation. The most successful approach to motivate GPs to participate is to convince them that research documents their quality of care. This data may reflect the facts on which the financial resources are provided in the future health care system.