Family physicians lack research on caring for the specific needs of their patients, according to an article published in the Oct. 18 issue of The Lancet, a London-based international medical journal.
The article calls for an expanded knowledge base for family practice involving physicians and input from patients in terms of generating research questions and interpreting data.
"We especially need to focus on the origins of illness, the origins of health--as observed in family medicine, and we really need to understand symptoms," says co-author Larry Green, M.D., in a written statement. Green is director of the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Practice and Primary Care in Washington, D.C.
"Many patients have two or more common diseases," the authors write. "A lot of data exist about treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or management of type 2 diabetes for patients younger than 75 years. There is, however, little evidence about how to treat an 82-year-old patient who has both disorders."
The researchers analyzed the limitations of contemporary ideas about evidence-based medicine, and looked at the need and opportunity for medical, contextual and policy research and evidence. The study notes an analysis of 70 Dutch college of general practitioners' guidelines identified 875 relevant clinical questions with no answer in published work.
"This lack of research is an international problem" that has "global repercussions," Green says.