Willingness of German general practitioners to participate in long-term research networks

Larissa Virnau, Annett Bräsigk, Tobias Deutsch, Alexander Bauer, Eric Kröber, Markus Bleckwenn, Thomas Frese, Heidrun Lingner

General practitioners (GPs) have a pivotal role in primary health care. Although transferability of medical-research outcomes from in-patient to out-patient settings is limited, research initiated and run by GPs is scarce while little is known about GPs readiness to commit themselves to research and research networks.

Research questions:
Investigate GPs’ willingness to participate in medical research and in research networks, and assess motivating participation-factors and barriers.

Recruitment to a multicenter cross-sectional survey among German GPs located close to the universities Halle-Wittenberg and Leipzig was based on public available Statutory Health Insurance GP-listings of Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt (survey roll-out September 7th 2020). Descriptive statistics, group comparisons, and logistic regression predicting participation-willingness in research networks were performed using IBM Statistics 25.

The response rate was 37.1% (336/905). While 57.1% of the GPs were interested to participate in medical research, 33.9% could also imagine playing an active role in a research network. Interest in participation in a research network was positively associated with male sex, younger age, being involved in teaching undergraduates and having previous experiences with medical research. On average, GPs were willing to dedicate about 1.5 h/week to research without being financially rewarded. This time doubled when payment was offered. Main motivators were improving patient care, giving a more realistic picture of GP care, and doing research on topics within their own interest areas. Most GPs were not afraid of reduced earnings; however, time was seen as the main barrier for participation. A reliable contact person at university enhances attractiveness of research. Polypharmacy, chronic diseases, drug safety and adverse drug reactions were elected most important research topics.

A substantial number of GPs is willing to participate in research. Our study provides helpful insights in barriers and motivators, and may be useful to consider when building new research networks.

Points for discussion:
Have you investigated GPs' willingness to participate in research and what were your results?

Are other countries currently building up research networks?

Is there any interest to pool data and/or findings and compare outcomes?