Journal of Primary Health Care Journal of Primary Health Care Society
Journal of The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners

Author Instructions

All new manuscripts should be submitted via ScholarOne Manuscripts.

The Journal of Primary Health Care (JPHC) is a peer-reviewed research journal publishing original research relevant to primary health care in New Zealand and Pacific rim countries.

We welcome papers from emerging authors, clinicians and academic researchers.

Publishing Policies
The JPHC insists on high standards of ethical behaviour throughout the publication process. Our journal editors work within the guidelines of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). Further information on our policies can be found at

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Peer review
The JPHC is a peer-reviewed journal that uses a single-blind peer-review. The Editor-in-Chief is responsible to maintain high-quality peer-review of papers submitted to the journal and works together with the Associate Editors to ensure a thorough and fair peer-review and the highest scientific publishing standards. All submissions undergo preliminary assessment by the Editor-in-Chief, who may reject a paper before peer review when it is outside the journal’s scope or is of insufficient quality. Associate Editors select reviewers and after at least two review reports are received, they make the decision whether to accept/reject or send a manuscript for revision. The final decision is made by the Editor-in-Chief.

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The conditions around authorship for The JPHC should follow the recommendations of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), for more information see

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Licence to Publish
For details regarding copyright, please see Copyright/Licence to Publish.

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Open Access
The JPHC is a fully open access journal. All articles:

  • may be viewed immediately after publication by anyone with an internet connection anywhere in the world without the need for a subscription
  • may be uploaded to any personal, institutional or public repository subject to acknowledgement of the author and journal in accordance with a CC-BY-NC-ND licence
  • may be downloaded, shared, copied, or redistributed in any medium or format provided the terms of the appropriate Creative Commons licence are followed.

Articles are published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 (CC-BY-NC-ND) licence: ( Under this licence, readers can share, redistribute and reuse the article without permission as long as it is not done for commercial purposes and as long as the article is not changed. Those wanting to make derivatives or use content commercially can contact us to discuss your needs. When sharing or reusing any article, attribution must be given to the original source. Alternative Creative Commons licences are available on request.

There are currently no article processing charges (APC), nor subscription or submission charges for the JPHC.

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Journal Editorial Policy
Authors should obtain the appropriate clearances from their directors or supervisors before submission.

Manuscripts submitted to the JPHC must be offered exclusively to the Journal and must conform with the Uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals.

Submission of an article implies that it has not been previously published, is not being considered for publication elsewhere, and that the contents are original. If a submitted article overlaps considerably with previously published articles or articles submitted elsewhere, copies of these should be included with the submitted manuscript.

The JPHC subscribes to the criteria for authorship as outlined by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors.

All persons designated as authors should qualify for authorship, and all those that qualify should be listed. Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for appropriate portions of the content. At least one author, ‘corresponding author’, should take responsibility for the integrity of the work as a whole, from inception to published article.

Authorship credit should be based only on:
(a) substantial contributions to conception and design or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data,
(b) drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content, and
(c) final approval of the version to be published.

Distinction must be made between those who contributed as authors and those who should be named in Acknowledgements.

Authors are responsible for obtaining permission to use figures and tables previously published in other books or journals. It is also the responsibility of the authors to check reproduced materials against the original for accuracy.

As part of the editorial process, manuscripts will be screened using the iThenticate system to verify originality.

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Ethics Approval
For studies involving people, medical records, and human tissues, the JPHC requires authors to document that a formally constituted review board (Ethics committee or Institutional Review Board) has granted approval for the research to be done.

Investigators who do not have access to an institutional review board are required to provide a statement to the editor outlining why it was not possible to gain formal ethics approval. If the study is judged exempt from review, a statement explaining the reason for exemption is required. Informed consent by participants or guardians should be sought when appropriate. If this is not possible, an institutional review board must decide if this is ethically acceptable.

All investigators should follow the principles outlined in the Declaration of Helsinki regarding human experimentation, and make a statement attesting that these principles were followed while conducting the research.

Authors must make their statement about ethics approval in the cover letter, which will be seen only by the editorial team. The statement will not be provided to reviewers. Authors are free to decide whether or not to make a statement about ethics approval in the manuscript itself. For most studies involving people, medical records, and human tissues, reviewers and readers will expect to see a statement about formal ethics approval.

CSIRO Publishing also follows CSIRO’s own guidelines on ethical human research.

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Submission and Preparation of Manuscripts
Please submit your paper using our online journal management system ScholarOne Manuscripts, which can be reached directly through this link or from the link on the JPHC´s homepage. If you are a first-time user, register via the ´Register here´ link; otherwise use your existing username and password to log in. Then click on the ´Author Centre´ link and proceed.

All authors’ names and affiliations should be listed on the main manuscript document. We recommend including a covering letter that offers a justification for publication.

ScholarOne requires authors to list at least two potential referees, which the Editor-in-Chief may take into consideration if sending the manuscript out for peer review.

Do not include any names of current or recent collaborators, members of your own research institution/group or other people who could be viewed as not impartial to your research outputs. Potential reviewers should be expert in some aspect of your research, which should be highlighted in your submission.

Submissions should be double-spaced with ample margins. Number all pages consecutively. Ensure that the abstract is included in the main document.

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Abstract and General Organisation
All original papers, systematic reviews and improving performance papers require an abstract of maximum 250 words.

Abstracts should be structured and should be clear and succinct. Article content should be structured according to the type of submission. Follow the specific instructions for original, systemic review or improving performance papers below. Short reports follow the format appropriate for the method. Articles should also contain a ‘What gap this fills’ statement consisting of: one or two bullet points under the headings ‘What is known about the topic’ and ‘What this research adds’.

All pages of the manuscript must contain line numbering to aid the referees in their task.

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Types of Articles

Please identify your paper as one of the following. The word length specified is of the abstract plus body text.


Original Research Papers
An original paper in the JPHC should present a thorough analysis of a topic, including review and results of new work by you, plus discussion and interpretation. See detailed instructions for Original Research Papers.

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Systematic Reviews
Systematic reviews of the literature use a clear protocol, decided upon at the outset of the research, to systematically examine quantitative or qualitative research evidence on a topic. Sometimes both quantitative and qualitative research may be included in a mixed-method systematic review. The structure of systematic reviews is similar to original papers. The term “systematic review” should be used in the title and the strategy for identifying the evidence to be reviewed should be described in detail. Maximum length is 3000 words. See detailed instructions for Systematic Reviews.

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Research Protocols
Research protocol papers present the plan of research that has not yet been completed. They should provide an account of the background, justification, and aims of the planned research and then describe the research methods in detail. Protocols for research that has been funded after a rigorous scientific review process by an external agency (such as the Health Research Council of New Zealand or the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia) are especially welcome. Maximum length is 2500 words.

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Improving Performance Papers
Improving performance papers present evidence to suggest that a clinical quality problem exists, suggest practical changes, or contribute towards defining standards of quality health care. We encourage submissions from primary care practices, primary health organisations, district health boards, and similar health care delivery organisations. See detailed instructions for Quality Improvement papers. Maximum length is 2500 words. See detailed instructions for Improving Performance Papers.

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Viewpoints include perspectives, discussions and reflections that explore areas of uncertainty, of ethics, of aspects of care for which there is no one right answer. These may include accounts of personal experience. Viewpoints should be concise and have a clear and focused message. They undergo peer review. Maximum length is 1500 words.

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Case Reports
Case Reports that raise interesting diagnostic or management issues, stimulate debate, address areas of uncertainty or controversy or present ethical concerns will be considered for publication. Case Reports should be no more than 800 words, photographs can be included. If patients may be identifiable despite their names not being attached, they must sign a Patient Consent Form.

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Editorials are commentaries and statements of informed opinion. They are usually commissioned by the Editor-in-Chief, although unsolicited editorials are also considered. Authors considering submitting an editorial should discuss this with the Editor-in-Chief prior to preparation. We also welcome suggestions for topics we could cover in our editorials.

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Letters to the Editor
Letters can be used to respond to published papers, briefly report original research or case reports, or raise matters of interest relevant to primary health care. The best letters are succinct and stimulating. Maximum 400 words.

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Other Publication Types
From time to time the JPHC may publish other types of manuscript such as debates, interviews, and ethics discussions. In general, the Editor-in-Chief commissions these pieces but readers are welcome to suggest topics. Maximum length is 1000 words plus nine references.

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Short Report
Short reports (1000–1500 words) will be considered in cases where the data do not warrant publication as a full paper – such as studies with small sample sizes, student work, or pilot studies. These must provide sufficient information and follow the structure of original papers to allow for the same stringent peer review given other submissions.

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Illustrations (charts, graphs, figures, drawings) are encouraged. These should be clear and accurate, and not contain excessive data. Each illustration must be cited in the text.

Photographs and line drawings should be of the highest quality. Computer-generated graphs and diagrams must be editable vector graphic files, saved in the following formats: Excel; encapsulated postscript (.eps) or Adobe Illustrator (.ai); illustrations created in PowerPoint should be saved in PowerPoint and as Windows Metafiles (.wmf); CorelDraw files should be saved as .eps or .ai files. Photographs should be at least 300 dpi and saved as .jpg or Photoshop files. If not created digitally, line drawings should be scanned at high resolution: at least 600 dpi, saved as .tif or Photoshop files.

Every line in a graph should have a purpose. Avoid three-dimensional boxes and unnecessary shading. All illustrations need a legend (which should include all explanatory text).

Authors are responsible for obtaining permission from the copyright holder for the use of figures/images from other publications.

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Set out tables using your word processor’s table tool – do not use a string of spaces or tabs as a formatting device.

Tables should not duplicate information in the text but be sure to cite each table in the text. Number tables consecutively in the order of their first citation in the text. Tables should have a title that clearly describes its content. Each column and row should have a heading. Abbreviations should be explained in a footnote. Identify statistical measures of variations, such as standard deviations and standard errors of the mean.

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Acknowledgements should be briefly presented on the title page. Where appropriate, give credit to funders, sponsors, technical assistants, and professional colleagues. All sources of funding need to be acknowledged. If the work has been part of postgraduate studies, the university you were enrolled in should be mentioned.

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Competing Interests
A statement of competing interests should be included on the title page. Each author should declare the source of any financial or other support, and any financial or professional relationships which may pose a competing interest.

Authors should describe the role, if any, of the supporting source(s) in study design, data collection, analysis and interpretation, and in writing of the article. They should also state whether the supporting source(s) controlled or influenced the decision to submit the final manuscript for publication. If the supporting source(s) had no such involvement, this should be stated.

Under a subheading ´Competing Interests´ at the end of the text all authors must disclose any financial and personal relationships with organisations or people that could inappropriately influence their work. If there are no conflicts of interest, authors should state that none exist.

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References and Citations
The JPHC uses the Vancouver style of referencing as described in: International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals. References are numbered in order of their first appearance in the text, and citations appear as superscript numerals. In the reference list, abbreviate journal names according to the style used for MEDLINE. The correct abbreviation for the Journal of Primary Health Care is J Prim Health Care. Give surnames and initials of all authors.

Examples of references:
1. Yamanashi H, Shimizu Y, Nelson M, et al. The association between living alone and frailty in a rural Japanese population: the Nagasaki Islands study. J Prim Health Care 2015; 7(4): 269-73.
2. Ringsven MK, Bond D. Gerontology and leadership skills for nurses. 2nd ed. Albany, New York: Delmar Publishers, 1996.
3. King A. The Primary Health Care Strategy. Wellington: Ministry of Health, 2001.
4. CSIRO Publishing - Journal of Primary Health Care [accessed 18/12/2015]

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Do not use abbreviations that are specific to the topic of the paper but not widely used by primary health care providers, generally. Avoid using any abbreviations unless there are many repetitions (more than five). Abbreviations are appropriate in tables and graphs, but these should be explained in footnotes to the illustration.

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Page Proofs
We will send page proofs to the corresponding author as PDF files. They must be returned to the production editor within three days of receipt to ensure timely publication of the journal and your research. Major alterations to the text and illustrations are accepted only when absolutely necessary.

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All accepted manuscripts are subject to embargo until the day of publication. Manuscripts should not be made available to others, nor should any news reports about articles appear until the date of publication.

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How to Write an Original Research Paper
Maximum word count: 2500 words (excluding Title page, Abstract, Tables, Acknowledgements and References).

Abstract: Should have the sub-headings Introduction, Aim, Methods, Results, Discussion. (Maximum 250 words).

Keywords: Up to six keywords or phrases should be provided (recommended to use MeSH terms). Consider including some or all of your keywords in the title and / or abstract.

What gap this fills: Summarise what was already known about the topic and what your work has added to the body of knowledge, with particular relevance to primary health care clinicians. No more than two short sentences should be included under each of the headings “What is already known” and “What this research adds”.

Main text: Original research papers should follow the “IMRAD” structure: Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion. Relevant sub-headings may be used.

Introduction: A clear succinct review of current knowledge on the topic to provide a context or background for the study – for example the nature and significance of the problem or gap in knowledge to be addressed. The final paragraph should contain the study aim with both primary and secondary objectives of the work.

Methods: Describe the study design, setting, participants, how they were selected and how many potential participants declined to be involved in the research. Comprehensively describe the data used in the study and the methods used to obtain the research data. Comprehensively describe how the data were analysed. Please state that the project has received ethical approval, the approving institution and approval identifier; or provide reasons for exemption from ethics committee review.

Results: This section presents the study findings. If the study design relies on statistical analyses (including descriptive statistics), include absolute numbers as well as percentages, and provide indicators of measure of uncertainty or error, such as confident intervals, as well as P values. Do not duplicate in the text the data in tables or figures but summarise the key findings. If the analysis relies on direct quotes from participants include sufficient quotes to support the conclusions, numbered to indicate the respondent, but anonymised to avoid respondent identification. These can either be inserted in the text (in italics and indented), or presented in table form with themes and sub-themes illustrated by appropriate quotes. Original papers requiring extensive participant quotes may be up to 3000 words in length.

Discussion: Summarise the main findings and interpret them in the context of previous relevant studies, stating how this research extends existing knowledge. Acknowledge the strengths and limitations of the research and discuss the implication of the findings with respect to practice, policy or future research.

For specific types of studies, please follow the CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials) Statement Website recommendations

Randomised controlled trial – CONSORT – CONSORT STATEMENT
Studies of diagnostic accuracy – STARD – STARD STATEMENT
Observational studies in epidemiology – STROBE – STROBE STATEMENT

Acknowledgements / funding: Acknowledgement should be made of those who do not meet the criteria for authorship but who have contributed to the design, data collection or manuscript preparation, as well as funding and material support.

Conflicts of Interest: All authors are to declare all potential, perceived, or real competing interests. If an author has no potential conflicts, please state.

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How to Write a Systematic Review
Maximum word count: 3000 words (excluding Title page, Abstract, Tables, Acknowledgements, Competing Interests and References).

Authors of systematic reviews are encouraged to use the PRISMA statement (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses) which replaces the QUOROM (Quality Of Reporting Of Meta-analyses) and MOOSE (Meta-analyses Of Observational Studies in Epidemiology).

For further information including the check-list and flow diagram please see The Abstract and Main Text should follow the same structure as for original research.

Please follow instructions for original papers with respect to Title, Keywords, What gap this fills, Acknowledgements, Funding and References.

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How to Write An Improving Performance Paper
These articles may cover any aspect of performance improvement in primary health care including health promotion, prevention and clinical interventions and programmes.

These evaluations or audits should usually present evidence to indicate that a problem of quality of practice may exist, suggest indications for changes in practice, or contribute towards defining standards or developing measures of outcome.

We welcome submissions from primary care practices and organisations of audits, programmes, and other initiatives contributing to new knowledge. We welcome both activities that have been successful and those that have not. Sharing your experiences allows us to learn from each other. Improving Performance papers will be peer-reviewed but under different criteria from full research articles.

Maximum word count: 2500 words (excluding Title page, Abstract, Tables, Acknowledgements and Contributions and References).

Please follow instructions for original papers with respect to Title, Keywords, What gap this fills, Acknowledgements, Funding and References.

Structural abstract: Background and context, Assessment of problem, Results, Strategies for improvement, Lessons. (Maximum 250 words).

Main text: Performance improvement papers should follow the structure used by Quality and Safety published by the BMJ Publishing Group Ltd.

1. Outline of problem, e.g.
a) What was the problem that was identified for study (problem definition)?
b) How was it identified?
c) Why was it a priority?
d) What were the stated objectives of audit?

2. Outline of context (local and wider), e.g.
a) Relevant details of local hospital/practice, etc.
b) Local internal organisation and structures relevant to the problem
c) Wider context of the problem
d) Staffing arrangements such as how staff work together

Assessment of problems
1. Detail of the approach taken with justification, e.g.
a) Criteria-based audit/critical incident/routine monitoring/TQM tools and techniques

2. Criteria, standards or guidelines developed, e.g.
a) Who set them and how they were developed?
b) Were they considered ideal or realistic?

3. Measurement of problem, e.g.
a) How was this done?
b) Who did the assessment?
c) How was it analysed?

Results of assessment/measurement
1. How results were used to understand the problem, e.g.
a) How results were put into local context
b) Implications for improving the quality of care
c) Implications for change

Strategies for quality improvement/change
1. Feeding back information to relevant staff, e.g.
a) How this was done?
b) Why was this approach chosen?
c) Who was included?
d) What was their responses?

2. Mechanism for change, e.g.
a) What course of action was taken and why?
b) Was this justified by the results and context?
c) Discussion of ease of change versus likely effectiveness
d) Who was/would be affected by change

Lessons and messages
1. What changes occurred?
2. If changes did not occur – why not?
3. What were the benefits for patients?
4. Lessons and messages – for your organisation
5. Lessons and messages – for other organisations
6. Were benefits sustained?

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