• Bioterrorism Preparedness of Family Physicians

    This project was conducted between October 2000 and September 2001, was funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to compare the family physician members of the AAFP National Research Network with U.S. family physicians in general, while examining and promoting the health care system's readiness for a bioterrorist event and other public health emergencies through the development of new evidence, tools, and models. The study consisted of two parts: focus groups and a mail survey. The focus groups, exploring family physicians’ knowledge and attitudes toward bioterrorism readiness, were completed at the March 2001 Annual Network Convocation. A mail survey subsequently was conducted with a random sample of active members of the AAFP and all Network physicians to further explore the issues raised in the focus groups. Data collection was completed in December 2001.  

    With this study we aimed to:

    1. Develop and test the AAFP National Surveillance Network, including:
      1. Recruitment of 300 sentinel family physicians in 15 states.
      2. Sentinel physician training and participation in influenza reporting.
      3. Testing the sentinel physicians’ ability to report on specific syndromes by reporting on “trial” cases.
      4. The sentinel family physicians will become known local community experts in bioterrorism and emerging public health threats.
    2. Establish effective communication linkages between the AAFP National Surveillance Network and local, state, regional, and national bioterrorism and public health threats programs, especially those in local and state departments of public health.


    Poster presentation, APHA 130th Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA. Nov 11, 2002.
    Frederick M. Chen, MD, John Hickner, MD, Kenneth S. Fink, MD, James Galliher, PhD, Helen Burstin, MD. “On the front lines: Family physicians’ preparedness for bioterrorism."

    Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: PBRN Grantee Meeting, January 14, 2003.
    James M. Galliher, PhD, Clark B. Hanmer, MD, John Hickner, MD, MS, Thomas V. Stewart, Herbert F. Young, MD, MA. "Investigating the Representativeness of PBRNs: Physician Preparedness for Bioterrorism and Other Public Health Emergencies."

    Key Findings and Publications

    Only one quarter of family physicians felt prepared to respond to a bioterrorist event. However, training in bioterrorism preparedness was significantly associated with physicians’ perceived ability to respond effectively to an attack. Primary care physicians need more training in bioterrorism preparedness and easy access to public health and medical information in the event of a bioterrorist attack.

    Access the complete manuscript:

    On the front lines: Family physicians' preparedness for bioterrorism. Chen FM, Hickner J, Fink KS, et al.  J Fam Pract 2002;51:745-749.