Traps for the unwary

November 2010

Research

Establishing the Victorian Primary Care Practice Based Research Network

Volume 39, No.11, November 2010 Pages 857-862

Melinda Soós

Meredith Temple-Smith

Jane Gunn

Kate Johnston-Ata’Ata

Marie Pirotta

Background

Practice based research networks comprise research academics and primary care practitioners who have the mutual goal of supporting the development and implementation of research that is necessary to build the evidence base that informs both primary healthcare practitioners and policy makers. This article describes the establishment of the Victorian Primary Care Practice Based Research Network (VicReN), which was established in 2007 and has grown to over 100 members.

Methods

The aim of this article is to discuss the key factors in the development of the organisational structure of VicReN, and to describe the outcome measures used to evaluate the network.

Results

VicReN has a diverse primary care membership. Members’ different research needs have been addressed through numerous capacity building activities. The absence of core funding beyond the development phase has led to an innovative funding model.

Discussion

This article outlines a viable and sustainable background practice based research network model in the Australian environment that may assist other academic departments of general practice and rural health interested in establishing a practice based research network.

Practice based research networks (PBRNs) are associations of primary care practices that form 'laboratories' wherein research is performed and outcomes are implemented.1–3 Practice based research networks are organisational structures that unite academic researchers and primary care practices to address questions relevant to the local health needs of primary care practitioners. These networks foster a research culture, build capacity and improve quality among member practices.2,4–7 To be applicable and meaningful, research about primary care must be undertaken within primary care settings8 by clinicians who have established good patient relationships.9

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Correspondence afp@racgp.org.au

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