Background: Generalist skills are of importance in those clinical disciplines that value whole person care that attends to biography as well as biology. Generalist researchers are often caught between reductionist (positivist) biomedical and social science (post-positivist) constructivist theories of knowing. Neither of these approaches approximate the complexity of the generalist clinical encounter. A theoretically robust research methodology is needed that acknowledges the complexity of interpreting these ways of knowing in research and clinical practice.
Method: We undertook a conceptual review of literature that outlines the philosophy and practice of generalism in primary care setting and both the practical (Zurich) and philosophical or methodological (Nicolescuian) schools of transdisciplinarity.
Results: Concurrence between generalism and transdisciplinarity were clearly identified in the literature, revealing alignment in their broad scope, relational process, complex knowledge management, humble attitude to knowing, and real-world outcome focus. These processes were described and named Transdisciplinary Generalism (a neologism developed for this inquiry).
Discussion: This research challenges the assumption that specialist reductionist forms of research adequately represent the way knowledge is used in general practice. It examines the link between generalist and transdisciplinary philosophy and practice in a way that may offer insight into both the knowledge management skills of the generalist clinician, and the forms of knowledge that need to be considered in any research that purports to consider the whole person
Implications for Practice: Transdisciplinary Generalism is a coherent epistemology and philosophy that could be used to define the goals, process and content of integrative research and clinical practice of whole person care. This could facilitate research that more closely aligns with the generalist setting, and therefore translation into practice. It could also facilitate increased self-respect from GPs for the work of the generalist: their participatory, reflexive, inclusive approach to the complex knowledge of the whole person. Funding: This research was undertaken as part of a PhD through The University of Queensland and funded by the Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship and the Advance Queensland Scholar program 2016-2019. 1. Project BWsJ. Researcher/Practitioner Discourse: Strangulation and Domestic Violence. In:2014.