An investigation into the benefits of prolonged study leave undertaken by general practitioners

Alison Hutchins, Anne Hastie, Caroline Starkey, Sean Hilton, Rosemary Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This study determined the benefits to general practitioners (GPs) of the opportunity to undertake a period of prolonged study leave (PSL). The study focuses on the benefits cited by GPs, on completion of their course of study or research, in written responses to open questions as part of a broader questionnaire survey. Quantitative and qualitative analyses were performed on the 62 responses received from 74 GPs invited to participate. A quantitative frequency analysis and a qualitative thematic content analysis were then produced from these data. Validation of results was achieved through circulating the draft paper to the subjects for response. The results demonstrated the majority of the GPs used PSL to gain a Masters degree, were aged between 40 and 49, and studied part time. All but one planned to continue in general practice, and 68% achieved an additional appointment as a result of undertaking PSL. Findings from the study suggest the experience of taking PSL was extremely positive for the majority of GPs, renewing their enthusiasm for general practice. PSL is effective in increasing knowledge, skills and confidence; reducing burnout and stress; and aiding retention in primary care. These outcomes directly benefit the NHS. Potential difficulties may arise from the additional stress caused by an increased workload, and the toll this may take on partnership and personal relationships. The study suggests that PSL may contribute to GP morale and retention in primary care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-65
Number of pages9
JournalEducation for Primary Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2005


  • Refreshment
  • Retention
  • Sabbatical


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