Background: General medicine physicians should aim to promote patient-centered care in clinical practice, and contribute to research that will advance general medicine as an academic discipline [1]. However, the general medicine certified board in Japan has been established since 2018 [2], and the trend in their research achievements is not clear. Therefore, this study aimed to identify the research achievements of Japanese general medicine physicians and trends in their research preferences.

Methods: Articles published in PubMed-indexed international journals between 2015–2020 were retrieved using a search formula combining multiple keywords. We then classified the nature of these articles into the following categories: clinical research, medical and clinical education, public health and epidemiology, health services, health care quality and safety, and experimental basic medicine. The article was included if it was a formal academic paper that was written by a Japanese general medicine physicians.

Results: A total of 3750 articles published between Jan 1, 2015 and Dec 31, 2020 in PubMed-indexed journals were extracted using the above-mentioned keywords; of these, 1378 were excluded based on the exclusion criteria. Finally, 2372 articles written by Japanese general medicine physicians were included, with an approximate 2.5-fold increase in the number of articles by general medicine physicians from 2015 to 2020 (259 to 653 articles) (Figure 1). The breakdown of the types of articles is as follows: 1209 original articles (51%), 910 case reports (38%), and 157 reviews (7%) (Figure 1). The breakdown of the original articles is as follows: 714 clinical research (59%), 172 experimental basic research (15%), 161 public health and epidemiology (14%), 75 health care quality and safety (6%), 46 medical and clinical education (3%), and 26 health care services (2%) articles (Figure 2).

Conclusions: In the past five years, the number of papers published annually by general physicians in Japan has increased significantly (approximately 2.5 times). Notably, compared to research trend in other countries, many general physicians conduct research in the field of basic experimental medicine. In addition, previous research has shown that the development of general academic medicine is essential for general medicine physicians to be recognized by research institutions, such as university hospitals[1]. Therefore, to improve future general medicine in Japan, it is necessary for general physicians to focus more on the development of general medicine as an academic discipline.

IMAGE 1: Figure 1 The trend of the types of articles by year

IMAGE 2: Figure 2 The breakdown of the original articles by General Medicine (n=1239)