Most GPs 'not practising 6-minute medicine'

The majority of GPs are not practising '6 minute medicine'. The average GP consultation lasts just under 15 minutes, according to a new study by the AIHW General Practice Statistics and Classification Unit, published this week in Australian Family Physician.

Director of the Unit, at the University of Sydney, Professor Helena Britt, said 'the study also shows that consultations with female GPs are longer on average (average 15.9 minutes) than those with males (average 14.3 minutes).

Professor Britt said that this finding was 'consistent with previous research that suggested that female GPs deal with more psychological problems (such as depression) and more social problems.'

'Younger male doctors (under 45 years) practising in metropolitan areas had the shortest average consultations at a little over 13 minutes.

'The GPs with the longest consultations, averaging 16.7 minutes, were rural female GPs aged 55 years and over.'

The study was based on the timed length of 31,000 consultations for which a Medicare item number was claimed, from a random sample of 926 GPs.

'Our study shows that the average length of consultations varies greatly between different GPs, ranging from less than 10 minutes to more than 30 minutes'.

'The fact that consultations with a few GPs averaged less than ten minutes is of some concern, but it is obvious from our data that the great majority of doctors are not in this category'.

'We now plan to look at the effect on the length of consultations of factors such as patient age and sex, the number and types of problems managed, and the treatments

'In the meantime we hope this study will be useful in the planning of future Medicare fee structures for GP attendances.

12 September 2002


Further information: A/Professor Helena Britt, tel. (02) 9845 8150 (wk) or 0411 197 938 (mobile)
For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, tel. 02 6244 1032, or Media Office, University of Sydney, 02 9351 2261