Large-Scale Observational Study on the Current Status and Challenges of General Medicine in Japan: Job Description and Required Skills

Int J Gen Med. 2022 Jan 29;15:975-984. doi: 10.2147/IJGM.S336828. eCollection 2022.


Purpose: To identify the current ambiguous status of general medicine (GM) and assess current problems and weaknesses for further development of GM.

Patients and methods: This study adopted an observational design. GM practitioners were selected from the mailing lists of two primary professional associations for Japanese GM doctors. We included physicians currently working in a GM department, those self-described as GM doctors, and those board-certified in family medicine or general internal medicine. Respondents replied to survey questions about their sociodemographic data, job descriptions, and the requisite skills for practice. GM doctors' job description and required skills were categorized into "clinical," "management," "education," and "research." Participants (n = 971) were compared based on job descriptions and important skills in each category by facility type, size, and position.

Results: "Clinical" was indicated as the most important category for both job description and important skills, followed by "management," "education," and "research." For job description details, "follow-up outpatient" (35.6%) ranked first for "clinical," and "resident education" (57.3%) ranked first for "education." By facility type and size, job description and important skills decreased for clinical and management categories as facility sizes increased; the opposite was true for "education." "Research" was generally rated low. By position, no significant difference was found in effort or importance given to research.

Conclusion: This study is the first survey on GM physicians across Japan. The results show that while Japanese GM physicians focus on and place importance on clinical practice, they are less involved in research and do not consider research skills to be important. The challenge for the future development of GM lies in research.

Keywords: general medicine doctors; job description; observational study; research skills.

Grant support

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.