Do general practitioners predominantly see patients with coughs and colds: Medical students??? and the general public???s perceptions


Nicole Koehler

Introduction: Anecdotally it is perceived that general practitioners(GPs) predominantly see patients with coughs and colds. The aim of the study was to ascertain medical students’ and the general public’s perceptions of what problems they believe GPs in Australia manage. Method: An anonymous online survey was completed by 357 medical students and 183 members of the general public. Results: Students and the general public generally had similar perceptions. Respiratory conditions were most frequently mentioned in response to asking participants to list the five most common problems they think GPs manage. When subsequently asked to rank order a list of 15 problems managed by GPs, prescriptions was ranked first by the largest percentage of participants. Upper respiratory tract infections were second and third most commonly ranked first by the general public and students respectively. More than half of all students with a non-general practice career preference and the general public either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement ‘GPs predominantly see patients with coughs and colds.’ Discussion: It is possible that medical students’ erroneous perceptions in regards to the type of problems GPs manage contributes to their decision as to whether to pursue a career in general practice