Practice-Based Research Networks challenge in healthcare today is how best to bridge the gap between research and practice. One approach which has had success in recent years is to build networks of clinicians who are interested in research and who are willing to participate in research projects and who partner with researchers. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has had a special interest in clinicians in primary care and calls such networks practice-based research networks, (PBRNs). They define a PBRN as a group of ambulatory practices devoted principally to the primary care of patients and affiliated in their mission to investigate questions related to community-based practice and to improve the quality of primary care. Over 100 PBRNs have registered with AHRQ to date.

While many of the initial PBRNs consisted of family physicians, over time PBRNs have expanded to include other types of primary care clinicians including nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and others.   In addition, Mold and Peterson argue that PBRNs are evolving into collaborative learning organizations due, in part, to advances in information technology and are contributing innovative health delivery models. The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine has published six theme issues on PBRNs to date and these issues have featured many of the accomplishments of this movement. At the same time, there are significant challenges in developing and sustaining PBRNs.

Here in Arizona, there is a new initiative aimed at forming a PBRN that would be interprofessional in nature and would be statewide. On September 14 and 15, there will be a planning meeting and conference to discuss the proposed PBRN, immediately following the Arizona Rural Health Conference at the Desert Diamond Resort and Casino in Tucson. For more information about this event please contact Elizabeth Hall-Lipsy at or 520-626-3180.



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