RACGP program to boost critical health research

Thursday, 21 January, 2021

RACGP program to boost critical health research

Australian GPs in training will examine a range of critical health issues and work to improve primary care for patients as part of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) 2021 Academic Post program.

Offered to Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) registrars, the 12-month Academic Post program aims to promote general practice research, and sees participants completing a research project with support from a university.

This year’s projects range from researching why women in rural Australia have worse survival rates for breast cancer to how GPs can assist patients experiencing domestic violence. The list of 2021 program recipients and research projects is available here.

Dr Darran Foo from Mollymook, NSW, is among the 2021 program recipients, with his research proposal looking at the impact of rurality on breast cancer treatment.

“Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women in Australia, and recent studies have shown women living in rural areas have worse survival rates for breast cancer compared to those in urban areas.

“The reason for this is still unclear, and there have been very limited studies, if any, examining the primary care aspect of the breast cancer journey in rural Australia.

“If we can find out what’s happening at the primary care level, we can make a real difference. We know GPs play a vital role in early diagnosis as they are often the first port of call for patients with new symptoms, especially in rural and regional areas.”

Dr Foo said he was looking forward to gaining experience in research and teaching in an academic environment, and encouraged others to apply for the program.

“I would definitely encourage anyone thinking of applying for [the] Academic Post program to go for it. The everyday practice of GPs is based on evidence, and more researchers are needed in the primary care domain to contribute to an evidence base that is geared towards general practice.”

RACGP Censor in Chief Tess van Duuren congratulated the 2021 Academic Post program recipients.

“It’s great to see the scope of research in the 2021 program, and I commend these registrars for taking up this opportunity to build their academic and research skills. General practice research underpins clinical practice and is the foundation of the quality, innovative, efficient and effective general practice required to deliver positive patient outcomes. Registrars who undertake the Academic Post often say that this work enhances their own clinical practice.

“However, general practice research is horribly underfunded, and accounts for a very small fraction of all medical research. Less than 1% of the Medical Research Future Fund’s 10-year Investment Plan has been allocated to primary care research.

“We really need more funding for general practice research, and more GPs and academics undertaking research in this area, which is so essential for the health of our nation.

“This is particularly true for regional, rural and remote parts of Australia, where opportunities for clinician researchers often lead to studies on local health issues, and also help to attract and retain health professionals.”

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/anyaberkut

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