Primary care, including the medical discipline of family medicine (general practice) is the cornerstone of many healthcare systems in Europe. Its potential is large: 80% of all reasons for encounter can be addressed in primary care. A holistic approach to differential diagnosis, treatment of common disorders, prevention as well as management of chronic diseases, and coping with multi-morbidity and poly-pharmacy are some of the key features to describe the specific content of family medicine.
Primary care research provides the evidence base for guidelines, important tools for implementation of medical knowledge into practice. They reduce unwanted variability in care delivery, set targets for quality of health care delivery and support medical education and continuous professional development. An increasingly multicultural society, technological developments and evolving genomic knowledge are new challenges for primary care research. General practice is a fast developing academic discipline, with an increasing output of scientific publications in all European countries.
The European General Practice Research Network (EGPRN) promotes research excellence and supports researchers in general practice/family medicine. The establishment of a research tradition in primary health care has been inhibited by the relative isolation of practitioners and difficulties in obtaining adequate funding, protected time and training . Even in university departments the competing and often conflicting demands of clinical, teaching and administrative commitments remain a problem. Organisations such as EGPRN are important as catalysts for sustaining enthusiasm and for providing personal support.
EGPRN (formerly known as EGPRW, European General Practice Research Workshop) is an organization of general practitioners and other health professionals involved in research in primary care and family medicine. Its aim is to provide a suitable setting in which to discuss and develop research in primary care; to foster and co ordinate multinational studies, to exchange experiences and to develop a validated scientific basis for general practice. In addition, EGPRN also offers general practitioners a chance to meet foreign colleagues prompting local and international research collaboration.