About PBRNs

Welcome to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Practice-based Research Networks (PBRNs) Website!

The goal of this website is to:

  • Inform primary care researchers and PBRNs about the latest PBRN and primary care research news.
  • Inform persons about research that has been and is being conducted in PBRNs.
  • Provide links to other sites that are useful for primary care and PBRN research.
  • Provide support in the form of presentations, documents, and information pertinent to PBRNs and their research.
  • Provide mechanisms for PBRNs to collaborate with one another.

AHRQ Practice-based Research Networks (PBRNs)

AHRQ defines primary care using the Institute of Medicines definition which is "Primary care is the provision of integrated, accessible health care services by clinicians who are accountable for addressing a large majority of personal health care needs , developing a sustained partnership with patients , and practicing in the context of family and community ." [2] AHRQ was designated in 1999 by Congress to "serve as the principal source of funding for primary care research in the Department of Health and Human Services". [1]

As part of its charge, AHRQ has devoted funds to support primary care practice-based research networks (PBRNs). These are defined as "a group of ambulatory practices devoted principally to the primary care of patients. Typically, PBRNs draw on the experience and insight of practicing clinicians to identify and frame research questions whose answers can improve the practice of primary care. By linking these questions with rigorous research methods, the PBRN can produce research findings that are immediately relevant to the clinician and, in theory, more easily assimilated into everyday practice". [3]

AHRQ has funded many PBRNs through targeted grant programs. While continuing to provide grant support AHRQ also supports networks by providing direct resources to PBRNs. Examples of the types of support provided:

  • PBRN Resource Center (RC) - An organization which provides technical support to primary care PBRNs. Support is provided in areas such as PBRN research methodology (including research design, analytic strategies, and organizational development), Health Information Technology, and the maintenance of the network. The RC also functions to build the capacity of these networks by educating the networks in primary care research and data collection best practices.
  • National Webinars - Presentations to assist researchers and support staff in topical areas such as PBRN operations, Quality Improvement Research, Heath Information Technology, and Research Methodology. These opportunities for information exchange empower the participants through expert consulting and training to share and improve skills.
  • Annual PBRN Conference - A three-day annual meeting focused on the sharing of information related to primary care and PBRN research. Attendees have the opportunity to interact with colleagues and AHRQ program officers and learn about ongoing research in primary care.
  • PBRN Literature - A virtual library of research conducted in primary care PBRNs. All citations must meet specific criteria to be included in the literature database. The PBRN Bibliography facilitates open access to research and further reduces the barriers to collaboration.
  • PBRN Registry - An online PBRN search repository of currently registered PBRNs.  The search function is based on information PBRNs provide during the annual registry process. This tool provides users the ability to identify collaborators or resources by: network membership type, current or past research interests, and state(s) of operation.


[1] Healthcare Research and Quality Act of 1999, amendment to Title IX of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 299 et seq.)

[2] Institute of Medicine. Primary Care: America' Health in a New Era. Donaldson MS, Yordy KD, Lohr KN, Vanselow NA, eds. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C 1996.

[3] Definition taken from AHRQ website: http://www.ahrq.gov/research/findings/factsheets/primary/pbrn/index.html page.
Please Note: the information provided on the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Practice Based Research Networks (PBRNs) Website is designed to support, not to replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her physician.