Three quarters (73%) of 130 GPs said time pressures had stopped them getting involved in research, the poll by medical charities found.
Other major barriers included a lack of funding and practical support.
GPs said it was vital the NHS conducts research into new treatments, while one in five (22%) said it was important they were personally involved in clinical research.
However, a third (34%) of GPs said they did not feel confident discussing research with their patients.
The ComRes survey of 392 GPs, hospital doctors and nurses was commissioned by Arthritis Research UK, Breast Cancer Campaign, British Heart Foundation and the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC).
Dr Liam O’Toole, chief executive of Arthritis Research UK, said: 'One in five people consult their GP about a musculoskeletal condition each year, and the role of GPs in enabling patient involvement in research is essential. We want all health professionals to have the time, resources and confidence to help their patients take part in research.'
Sharmila Nebhrajani, chief executive of AMRC, said: 'This survey shows that we still have quite a way to go if we are to get close to the government’s goal of every clinician a researcher and every willing patient a research participant.'
Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: 'It’s easier than you think to help with research. We’re not asking for all healthcare professionals to become outright researchers. But we do need them to understand the research world and how they can facilitate the use of patients and patient data for research.'