Since I finished internship in 1994, I have worked in general practice. The variation in tasks, the possibility of long-term relationship with patients and the independence were all good reasons to become a GP. Already in 1997 I had the opportunity to do a small research project and got in contact with experienced researchers at the University of Bergen. The 50/50 combination of clinical work and research was perfect! I finished my doctoral degree in 2004 with a thesis on pregnancy and delivery as risk factors for urinary incontinence. For many years after that, population-based studies of pelvic floor disorders was my main subject, including studies in the USA, Denmark and Ethiopia (1-3).
Gradually, I got interested in infectious diseases that are mainly taken care of by the GP. In collaboration with my brother who is a GP in an island community, and with specialists at the hospital, all cases of impetigo over more than a decade were recorded (4). We could demonstrate changes in antibiotic susceptibility and clone status. Then in 2004, a huge outbreak of Giardia lamblia hit Bergen, with possibly as many as 5000 cases. The collaboration with specialists in infectious diseases that grew out of this, gave ground for several doctoral degree projects, and the follow-up of long term complications still goes on (5). The experience from these previous epidemics was valuable during the 2009 influenza season, when we managed to set up a study of the pandemic from a GP perspective (6).
Over the years, I have learnt that we have a hugely important task in explaining to our health authorities, again and again, that primary care is different from hospital-based health care. Hence, society needs to allocate resources to high-level research in primary care. An infrastructure, such as a practice-based research network, to conduct efficient clinical research is necessary (7). In recent years I find myself constantly arguing for these facts wherever I go, and see myself as a primary care activist as well as a researcher.
- Rortveit G, Daltveit AK, Hannestad Y, Hunskaar S. Urinary incontinence after vaginal delivery or cesarean section. N Engl J Med 2003;348:900-7
- Wesnes SL, Hunskaar S, Bø K, Rortveit G. Urinary Incontinence and Weight Change During Pregnancy and Postpartum: A Cohort Study. Am J Epidemiol 2010;172:1034–44.
- Gjerde J, Rortveit G, Muleta M, Adefris M, Blystad A. Living with pelvic organ prolapse: Voices of women from Amhara region, Ethiopia. Int Urogynecol J 2016 e-pub ahead of print
- Rørtveit S, Skutlaberg DH, Langeland N, Rortveit G. Impetigo in a population over 8.5 years: Incidence, fusidic acid resistance and molecular characteristics. J Antimicrob Chemother 2011;66:1360-4
- Wensaas K-A, Hanevik K, Mørch K, Eide GE, Langeland N, Rortveit G. Irritable bowel syndrome and chronic fatigue 3 years after acute giardiasis: historic cohort study. Gut 2012;61:214-19
- Simonsen KA, Hunskaar S, Sandvik H, Rortveit G. Capacity and adaptations of general practice during an influenza pandemic. PLOS One 2013 8(7):e69408.
- Rortveit G. Research networks in primary care: an answer to the call for better clinical research (editorial). Scand J Prim Health Care 2014;11:1-3 e-pub