March 15, 2022, 12:05 p.m. News Staff — When it comes to fostering and distributing information that advances family medicine and improves the care that family physicians provide to patients, families and communities, it’s hard to beat the accomplishments of the AAFP National Research Network. Established in 1999, the AAFP NRN has played a crucial role in providing FPs with timely, relevant research they can use to provide optimal care in a variety of settings.
The 2020-2021 AAFP NRN annual report, published this month, details several of the network’s recent achievements and offers a better understanding of its contributions to primary care research.
“This report is an important opportunity for us to showcase the contributions our members are making to advancing the discipline of family medicine,” said Christina Hester, Ph.D., M.P.H., director of the Academy’s Division of Practice-based Research, Innovation and Evaluation. “Our network of members, collaborators, partners and staff allow us to undertake initiatives and projects that truly make a difference for family medicine and primary care. With our annual report, we are pleased to be able to share the successes of the past year with the AAFP audience.”
Membership. With the addition of 17 new members in the past year, the total number of AAFP NRN members surpassed 2,400 for the first time. Although family physicians make up the majority of membership, it includes physicians from other specialties as well as nurses, dentists, public health experts and others interested in primary care research. Participation in the AAFP NRN is free of charge; more information is available on the network’s membership page.
Research. AAFP NRN members are currently participating in more than 35 active research projects focusing on topics including asthma, depression and migraines. Through this work, the AAFP NRN has played a significant role in the development of new CME products for members. Among the products that have been added to the Academy’s CME catalog are two AAFP TIPS™ resources — one on continuous glucose monitoring, and another on agenda setting — as well as a performance improvement activity solution on addressing the cost of medications.
In addition, the AAFP NRN will be seeking practices to participate in two projects relating to colorectal cancer screening for studies starting soon. Individuals who want updates on current and future opportunities can email the network for more information.
COVID-19. The effects of the pandemic continue to present challenges to family physicians. At the start of the pandemic and continuing into the summer of 2021, the AAFP NRN, in partnership with the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care, developed a weekly survey to examine how physicians and practices were being impacted by COVID-19. The survey contained both recurring questions to build a longitudinal understanding of the pandemic’s effects, and topical questions that addressed concerns about time-specific issues such as telehealth and the availability of personal protective equipment. All survey reports are now available via the Graham Center’s Publications and Reports webpage.
The report also features
Hester told AAFP News that the AAFP NRN already has several other projects in various stages of development for 2022.
“This year we will continue our contributions to building family medicine research capacity by supporting the third cohort of family physician scholars in their leadership of practice-based research projects through the RapSDI project, said Hester. “We will also develop research-informed tools and resources to support family physicians and their care teams and patients in using continuous glucose monitoring.
“Additionally, our portfolio of active projects is diverse, with project topics ranging from behavioral health to vaccination to prevention to chronic disease management. We encourage those of you who would like more information or want to be looped into our regular communications to reach out to us.”
Family physicians and others are invited to visit the AAFP NRN webpage for the latest news and information.