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There is a need for an internationally acceptable classification of the problems which general practitioners face in their day-to-day work. Taxonomy is fundamentally important to the science of family medicine.
The new classification should be seen relation to the history of classification in general practice which led to the formation of the WONCA Working Party on Classification.
Running an international ‘postal committee’ is feasible and economical, provided that objectives are clear and ground rules agreed on. Practical problems did arise; some of these, and their solutions, are described.
The field trial of the classification posed more difficulties and its progress is described. It showed that the classification was well accepted by most of the general practitioners who tried it in many different countries. Emphasis is placed on the need to put the classification to use, on the necessity of maintaining a continuing system to revise the classification regularly, to develop closer liaison with other medical taxonomers, and to move forward now into the field of nomenclature.