WONCA tree developed by the College of Primary Care Medicine
Lupe zum Vergrößern des Bildes
WONCA tree developed by the College of Primary Care Medicine

Profile of the Department of General Practice and Primary Care, Hamburg University Medical School

Department of General Practice and Primary Care at Hamburg University Medical School was founded in 1993. More than 45 scientists and about 10 non-scientific personnel are working here, representing different specialties: medicine, sociology, health sciences, nursing, psychology, statistics and more. The institute's main tasks are research, teaching (undergraduate and post-graduate) and the treatment of patients (ER and on-campus GP office).Being one of the largest institutes of General Practice in Germany we have dedicated ourselves to the main tasks of primary care as defined by the DEGAM (German Society for General and Family Medicine): primary health care, gate keeping, coordination and integration of health services, and health education. The WONCA tree (see below), developed by the College of Primary Care Medicine (Switzerland) demonstrates the different important aspects of primary care.


In mostly multi-disciplinary teams, we conduct research primarily in the following areas:
1. Research development, guidelines and quality improvement
2. Epidemiology and health services research
3. Clinical research and interventional health care research

1. Research development, guidelines and quality improvement: The topics of this research area are knowledge transfer and evidence based health care. We develop, update and assess guidelines (for example for patients with multimorbidity) and quality indicators for primary care, as well as assessing health technology. Explorative projects aiming at the enhancement of evidence based clinical medicine as well as evidence based health care are also conducted. Other projects are working on advancing the methodology of research.

2. Epidemiology and health services research: The projects focus on the most relevant topics in primary care such as: dementia, heart failure, depression (especially in elderly) and multimorbidity. Research questions concern epidemiology, healthcare utilization, interprofessional cooperation, and medication. Most of the data is collected in cohort studies, as well as in qualitative or cross-sectional studies, in a few projects we work with secondary data (from health insurances or associations of statutory health insurance physicians).

3. Clinical research and interventional health services research: The effectiveness of interventions in primary care, especially of complex interventions for patients with multimorbidity, stroke, depression, or for elderly or diabetic patients with migration background, are subject of this research area.

International and national cooperation in Health Services Research

The department is cooperating with a number of institutions from within the Center for Health Care Research and the Center for Psychosocial Medicine. External cooperation partners include the Associations of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, the Institute for Quality and Economic Efficiency (IQWIG, Cologne) and the aQua Institute for Quality in health care (Gottingen). Research cooperation exist to a number of departments of general practice from German universities (e.g. Gottingen, Heidelberg or Munich). International research contacts to working groups in the Netherlands, Great Britain and Australia are maintained via the WONCA (World Organization of Family Doctors), GIN (guidelines international network) and the EPCCS (European Primary Care Cardiovascular Society).


Undergraduate education

The department plays a prominent part in the improvement and accomplishment of the old and new (iMED) undergraduate curriculum of the Hamburg University Medical School and is permanently involved in reforming the curriculum. Main issues are the advancement of communication skills and the promotion of the popularity of primary care as a target profession amongst medical students.

The teaching program includes the following topics:
Lectures, courses and practical courses in family medicine at different stages in the curriculum

  • Organization of the 2-week compulsory internship in certified teaching practices
  • Seminars in family medicine for interns
  • The introductory course to clinical medicine (skills training) for preclinical students
  • Interdisciplinary bedside teaching sessions and seminars together with psychiatry, psychosomatics and geriatrics (e.g. on breaking bad news)
  • A compulsory course on the national health services system, health economics and different health system settings
  • Developing roles for and training of simulated patients for several teaching activities in the faculty
  • An innovative course on intercultural competence for medical students
  • An elective course on the characteristics of the ambulatory sector and family medicine in the German health care system

The institute is involved in some interdisciplinary courses, such as POL (problem oriented learning), and a seminar on back pain

Continuing education

Together with the Hausärzteverband Hamburg, the Verein Hausärztlicher Internisten Hamburg, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Allgemeinmedizin and the Fortbildungsakademie der Ärztekammer, the institute is responsible for the program and the realization of continuing education for general physicians in Hamburg.

Patient care

In October 2012 the Primary Health Care Centre opened its doors to employees and students of the University Hospital. It is located in the grounds of the University Hospital and staffed by general practioners of the Department of General Practice and Primary Care. It also serves as a local GP office looking after patients from the neighbouring areas.
General practioners from the institute also play a vital role in seeing non-urgent patients in the emergency department, ensuring that patients have access to the most appropriate care for their problem.