Surviving or thriving in the primary health care research workforce: the Australian experience

Jodie Oliver-Baxter, Lynsey Brown, Ellen McIntyre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Primary healthcare research strives for high-quality, priority-driven research to inform policy and practice. This relies on a robust and sustainable workforce to tackle complex problems faced in primary health care locally and globally. The current study investigated characteristics, experiences and career paths of the Australian primary healthcare research workforce. Thirty-seven former Research Higher Degree students from University Departments of General Practice and Rural Health completed a survey. Number of provisions for researchers and career path clarity were associated with job satisfaction. Motivators to stay in research included job satisfaction, research in role descriptions, and identification of problems requiring change. Barriers related to funding, time, and other work roles taking priority were identified. Comparisons were made between participants self-identifying as working in primary healthcare research ('stayers'; n≤22) and those no longer part of this workforce ('leavers'; n≤15). Leavers were more likely to be in permanent full-Time work whereas stayers had experienced more career progression and mentoring. This study raises challenges faced by primary healthcare researchers and will inform strategies for supporting the sustainability of this workforce.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-188
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian Journal of Primary Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • academic primary care
  • career paths
  • mentoring
  • researchers.


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