Competencies required for general practitioners/family physicians in urban areas versus non-urban areas: a preliminary study

BMC Fam Pract. 2018 Nov 29;19(1):186. doi: 10.1186/s12875-018-0869-4.


Background: The medical practice of general practitioners/family physicians in urban areas differs from that in rural areas, accounting for the difference in specific competencies. However, variations in competencies in community healthcare required for general practitioners/family physicians in urban areas compared with those in rural areas have not yet been fully clarified. Thus, this study aimed to elucidate the competencies required for general practitioners/family physicians, especially in those characteristic to urban areas, and compare them with those in non-urban/rural areas.

Methods: A qualitative study with individual interviews and qualitative data analysis was conducted. Participants were selected by purposive sampling, and 10 general practitioners/family physicians with clinical experience of ≥7 y after graduation and ≥ 1 y in both urban and non-urban (rural) areas in Japan were recruited. Additionally, semi-structured individual interviews in a private room around the workplace of the interviewee between September 2014 and September 2016 were conducted. For data collection, interview transcripts were analyzed according to the "Steps for Coding and Theorization" method, a sequential and thematic qualitative data analysis technique and data analysis since March 2018.

Results: We interviewed 10 general practitioners/family physicians of Japan and extracted 10 themes as competencies characteristic to general practitioners/family physicians in urban areas. In addition to the known competencies on urban underserved care, we newly clarified the competencies of the ability to integrate divided care and ability to coordinate and collaborate with various medical care and welfare professionals in urban areas.

Conclusion: This study was one of the few studies describing the characteristic competencies of urban general practitioners. In summary, a competency necessary for general practitioners in urban areas is to understand the urban context and provide contextual care suitable for urban areas. In the modern age, where urban population concentration is progressing and the interest in urban health is rising, our study will give certain suggestions for primary care education and practice necessary for urban areas.

Keywords: Competency; Family physician; General practitioner; Non-urban/rural area; Urban area.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Community Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • General Practitioners / standards*
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Physicians, Family / standards*
  • Primary Health Care / standards
  • Qualitative Research*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rural Population*
  • Urban Population*