Each individual in a random sample of recognised GPs records details of 100 consecutive GP–patient encounters of all types (including indirect consultations which resulted in clinical action) on structured paper encounter forms. In a full-data collection year 1,000 GPs will participate and this will provide details of approximately 100,000 encounters.

Ethics approval for this study was obtained from the Human Ethics Committee of the University of Sydney and the Health Ethics Committee of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The BEACH program began on 1 April 1998. Data from the first six months have been entered, cleaned and analysed.