This essay is a personal review of a research journey extending over 50 years during which time the understanding of medical practice has changed out of all recognition and the quality and standing of the discipline of general practice has improved substantially. Three main bodies of work are reviewed and set against the reasons why they were undertaken. The first, on the pathology of the appendix and the management of possible appendicitis, was carried out almost entirely in the hospital setting. The second, about the prescribing of antibiotics for respiratory illnesses, and the third, about the determinants of good consulting practice, were carried out in general practice. The essay concludes with a reflection on the relevance of the work to some contemporary academic and health service issues. Although the work was carried out in the UK in the context of its National Health Service (NHS), the conclusions are widely generalizable and have contributed to health service and academic developments in many other countries.
Keywords: Consultations; decision-making; general practice; prescribing; research; theory..