Israel initiated postgraduate residency training for family medicine (FM) in 1969 and therefore became one of the first seven countries accepted for membership in the World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA).27 Research in primary care (PC) in Israel developed alongside the growth of FM as an academic discipline. The following are milestones in the development of research in PC in Israel:
Jack Medalie, the founder of the Department of Family Medicine at Tel Aviv University, Israel, and later at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, was a world pioneer in cardiovascular epidemiology. Together with colleagues and funding from the National Institutes of Health, he conducted the Israel Ischemic Heart Disease Study in 1963 to analyse factors having a positive or negative correlation with ischemic heart disease. The study population of 10 000 male civil servants living in Israel, aged 40–75, was followed for 23 years. The variables under scrutiny focused on six areas: genetic, socio-demographic, clinical, biochemical, behavioural and psychosocial. The study results were published in more than 100 papers in leading medical journals.28
RAMBAM, the Family Medicine Research Network in Israel, was founded in 1991 to encourage research in PC and the advancement of family physicians’ academic achievements.29 This resulted in improving the organisation and nature of the 182research in PC and led to the publication of several major studies. Among others, studies on sexual abuse and low back pain were conducted. One of the founders of the research network is Jeffrey Borkan, later the chair of the Department of Family Medicine at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, USA.30
The Sial Research Centre at Ben-Gurion University, founded in 2000, has contributed to research in PC in Israel, in general, and to the national palliative care training programme and family practice and health policy in PC, in particular.
The Israel National Institute for Health Policy Research (NIHP) is another independent organisation, which strives to promote and fund research pertaining to the economics, quality of services and decision-making processes in the health system in Israel. To date, the NIHP has funded dozens of studies on health policy, organisation of healthcare services, health economics and the quality of national healthcare services.