Deakin University

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Australian general practitioner perceptions to sharing clinical data for secondary use: a mixed method approach

journal contribution
posted on 2023-02-07, 01:22 authored by RJ Varhol, Sean RandallSean Randall, JH Boyd, Suzanne RobinsonSuzanne Robinson
Abstract Objective The potential for data collected in general practice to be linked and used to address health system challenges of maintaining quality care, accessibility and safety, including pandemic support, has led to an increased interest in public acceptability of data sharing, however practitioners have rarely been asked to share their opinions on the topic. This paper attempts to gain an understanding of general practitioner’s perceptions on sharing routinely collected data for the purposes of healthcare planning and research. It also compares findings with data sharing perceptions in an international context.  Materials and methods A mixed methods approach combining an initial online survey followed by face-to-face interviews (before and during COVID-19), designed to identify the barriers and facilitators to sharing data, were conducted on a cross sectional convenience sample of general practitioners across Western Australia (WA). Results Eighty online surveys and ten face-to-face interviews with general practitioners were conducted from November 2020 – May 2021. Although respondents overwhelmingly identified the importance of population health research, their willingness to participate in data sharing programs was determined by a perception of trust associated with the organisation collecting and analysing shared data; a clearly defined purpose and process of collected data; including a governance structure providing confidence in the data sharing initiative simultaneously enabling a process of data sovereignty and autonomy. Discussion Results indicate strong agreement around the importance of sharing patient’s medical data for population and health research and planning. Concerns pertaining to lack of trust, governance and secondary use of data continue to be a setback to data sharing with implications for primary care business models being raised. Conclusion To further increase general practitioner’s confidence in sharing their clinical data, efforts should be directed towards implementing a robust data governance structure with an emphasis on transparency and representative stakeholder inclusion as well as identifying the role of government and government funded organisations, as well as building trust with the entities collecting and analysing the data.



BMC Primary Care



Article number





London, Eng.







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal