Community views on the secondary use of general practice data: Findings from a mixed-methods study

Annette J. Braunack-Mayer, Carolyn Adams, Alberto Nettel-Aguirre, Belinda Fabrianesi, Lucy Carolan, Justin Beilby, Felicity Flack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: General practice data, particularly when combined with hospital and other health service data through data linkage, are increasingly being used for quality assurance, evaluation, health service planning and research. In this study, we explored community views on sharing general practice data for secondary purposes, including research, to establish what concerns and conditions need to be addressed in the process of developing a social licence to support such use. Methods: We used a mixed-methods approach with focus groups (November–December 2021), followed by a cross-sectional survey (March–April 2022). Results: The participants in this study strongly supported sharing general practice data with the clinicians responsible for their care, and where there were direct benefits for individual patients. Over 90% of survey participants (N = 2604) were willing to share their general practice information to directly support their health care, that is, for the primary purpose of collection. There was less support for sharing data for secondary purposes such as research and health service planning (36% and 45% respectively in broad agreement) or for linking general practice data to data in the education, social services and criminal justice systems (30%–36%). A substantial minority of participants were unsure or could not see how benefits would arise from sharing data for secondary purposes. Participants were concerned about the potential for privacy breaches, discrimination and data misuse and they wanted greater transparency and an opportunity to consent to data release. Conclusion: The findings of this study suggest that the public may be more concerned about sharing general practice data for secondary purposes than they are about sharing data collected in other settings. Sharing general practice data more broadly will require careful attention to patient and public concerns, including focusing on the factors that will sustain trust and legitimacy in general practice and GPs. Patient and Public Contribution: Members of the public were participants in the study. Data produced from their participation generated study findings. Clinical Trial Registration: Not applicable.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13984
JournalHealth Expectations
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


  • community views
  • data linkage
  • data sharing
  • ethical issues
  • general practice data
  • research


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