Below are various PBRN Frequently Asked Questions.

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AHRQ FAQ - All Topics

What is the history of PBRNs?

Please visit our section on History of PBRNs in the About section and by reviewing materials in the Resources section on Essential PBRN Literature.

How has AHRQ supported PBRNs?

Between 2000 and 2005, AHRQ funded 4 major competitive grant programs for PBRNs. In addition to funding opportunities, AHRQ is supporting PBRNs through a national resource center, an annual national conference, peer learning groups, an electronic PBRN research repository, and a secure web-based PBRN portal.

In 2000, the U.S. had approximately 24 primary care PBRNs. AHRQ has since provided direct funding for more than 68 PBRNs through targeted grant and contract programs, and has provided technical and networking assistance for many more. In 2009, AHRQ research identified more than 113 primary care PBRNs operating across the U.S.

What is a PBRN?

AHRQ defines a primary care practice-based research network, or 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. This definition includes a sense of ongoing commitment to network activities and an organizational structure that transcends a single research project. PBRNs often link practicing clinicians with investigators experienced in clinical and health services research, while at the same time enhancing the research skills of the network members. 

How does AHRQ define "primary care"?

AHRQ defines primary care using the Institute of Medicine (IOM) definition which is that "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." For more information on this definition, please see the IOM report entitled, Primary Care: America's Health in a New Era. (Donaldson MS, Yordy KD, Lohr KN, Vanselow NA, eds. Primary Care: America's Health in a New Era. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. 1996). 

How does The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Prescription for Health fit into AHRQ's PBRN initiative?

The Prescription for Health is a five-year initiative funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in collaboration with AHRQ, to develop creative and practical strategies for promoting healthy behaviors in patients within primary care practices. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has funded several PBRNs in both Phase I and Phase II of this initiative. The specific behaviors this initiative is targeting is

  • Lack of physical activity
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Tobacco use
  • Risky use of alcohol

For more information about the Prescription for Health, please visit their website at http://www.prescriptionforhealth.org.

What additional support has AHRQ given to PBRNs? 

Please visit the About page for more information on the support AHRQ has provided.

Whom can I contact to find out more about PBRNs or to find out if we qualify as a primary care PBRN? 

Please visit the Register Your Network page for more information.

Why does AHRQ support PBRNs? 

As part of the December, 1999 legislation (Public Law 106-129) reauthorizing and renaming the Agency, AHRQ was directed to employ research strategies and mechanisms that link research directly with clinical practice in geographically diverse locations throughout the country, including the use of "provider-based research networks especially (in) primary care."

To better address issues of disparities in health care quality, outcomes, cost, and access for various segments of the U.S. population, amended section 901(b)(2) authorized the Agency to implement research strategies and mechanisms that specifically include PBRNs. 

Why should I register my network? 

There are many advantages to registering your network including notifications of funding opportunities, relevant research, and learning opportunities. For more information please see our section on PBRN registry. All networks will receive a certificate of registration once registration is completed.