OBJECTIVES: To assess the training and interest of a group of general practitioners in the area of sport and exercise medicine, and the organisations representing the specialty. DESIGN: A postal questionnaire using a Likert scale in a previously piloted set of questions. SUBJECTS: 275 general practitioners registered with the Northampton Regional Health Authority. MAIN OUTCOME MEASUREMENTS: Responses to questions designed to assess training and interest in sport and exercise medicine. RESULTS: A response rate of 87.6% was achieved. It was found that 72.7% of the responding general practitioners felt inadequately trained to practice sport and exercise medicine. Some 76.0% would welcome more training and 36.4% felt that their undergraduate orthopaedic training was of no use in primary care. Many (63.6%) of the general practitioners believed that the current NHS cannot sustain sport and exercise medicine, and there was uncertainty as to whether it is currently a recognised specialty, although 60.4% felt that it should be. General practitioners listed lack of facilities (53.1%), lack of training (42.9%), and lack of time (38.2%) as the main problems in practicing sport and exercise medicine in primary care within the current NHS. CONCLUSIONS: General practitioners feel undertrained in sport and exercise medicine at both undergraduate and post-graduate level; they have a perceived need for more training and show an interest in the subject. There is scope for improving the value of undergraduate orthopaedic training. General practitioners wish to see sport and exercise medicine recognised as an NHS specialty but fear that this is not sustainable under current conditions. There is confusion among general practitioners about the current sport and exercise medicine organisations.
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