Principles of family medicine and general practice - Defining the five core values of the specialty

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28 Citations (Scopus)


The principles of general practice and family medicine are the defining characteristics of the speciality. The five principles are: compassionate care - a caring attitude towards patients and their families shown as kindness and a desire to help; generalist approach - a perspective on the whole person and the context of illness including family, culture and society; continuity of relationship - the interpersonal bond of trust and respect between family physicians, patients, and their families that develops over the life course; reflective mindfulness-doctors’ awareness of their thoughts and emotions manifested as a sense of presence and attentiveness towards self and others; and lifelong learning - a commitment to personal and professional development by participating in learning activities and practice-based research that leads to better patient outcomes. Concepts such as care coordination, preventive care, access to care, professional competence, resource management and community-based care, are part of the principles above. The term ‘comprehensive care’ is should be avoided as it misinterprets the scope of family medicine. The principles of general practice and family medicine characterise the speciality’s core values. These guidelines form the basis of clinical practice as well as the identity of family medicine as a discipline. Aiming to extract the principles from current literature, I searched MEDLINE and Google Scholar for term ‘principles of family medicine’ with results sorted by relevance, and without limits on language or date of publication. Major textbooks of family medicine and general practice were consulted as well.1–6 As supported by academic literature, the terms ‘general practice’ and ‘family medicine’ are used synonymously7.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-287
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Primary Health Care
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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