July 7, 2021, 2:41 p.m. Michael Devitt — In 2019, the AAFP Foundation and the AAFP National Research Network teamed up to launch Family Medicine Discovers Rapid Cycle Scientific Discovery and Innovation, a signature program designed to recruit family physicians who are interested in performing clinical research (but don’t have the time or money to fully develop their idea) and provide selected candidates with support and resources to help them complete their projects.
“Not everyone catches the research bug early, but some physicians face interesting questions or clinical challenges in practice and want to acquire training to answer those questions on a larger basis than one patient at a time,” FMD RapSDI Work Group co-chair Lars Peterson, M.D., Ph.D., explained to AAFP News when the program debuted two years ago. “The FMD RapSDI program is important because it is intended to help practicing family physicians who develop an interesting clinical question learn research skills through a mentored project while remaining in their practice.”
The program announced scholars from the first RapSDI application cycle in May 2020 and started accepting applications from FPs interested in becoming RapSDI scholars for the second cycle in July 2020. Following an extensive review process that spanned several months, the program has selected its two scholars for 2021.
Iman Majd, M.D., M.S., E.A.M.P./L.Ac., director of the Osher Clinic for Integrative Medicine and a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Washington, Seattle, received a grant for his research project, “Feasibility of Auricular Acupuncture for Chronic Pain Management in Group Visit Setting.”
“Acupuncture group visits have been done in community clinics and are mostly cash-based,” Majd told AAFP News. “As there is a great demand from patients for acupuncture and considering promising results of auricular acupuncture in pain management, my goal is to see how we can implement a model for such visits.”
Majd said auricular acupuncture is relatively easy to teach, meaning that FPs can become competent learning the protocol through a weekend course, then start using the technique in their practices. He also said he considers family medicine practices an “ideal environment” for exploring and implementing nonpharmacological pain management services such as acupuncture.
“In auricular acupuncture, patients do not need to disrobe and expose their body, the treatments can be done in a sitting position and treatment time can be relatively short,” explained Majd. “If auricular acupuncture group visits prove to be financially sustainable for the system and also welcomed by the patients, this model has the potential to be scaled and implemented in other primary care facilities.”
Majd hopes his research will answer a number of questions about the use of auricular acupuncture on topics including
“As we nationally discuss and explore opportunities to provide nonpharmacological pain management modalities for our patients, learning and implementing auricular acupuncture models in our practices would provide us extra tools to tackle the issue of chronic pain management,” Majd said.
Sanjay Batish, M.D., founder and owner of Batish Family Medicine in Leland, N.C., received a grant for his research project, “An Evaluation of the SaFETy Score as a Predictor of Gun Violence in Adolescent-Young Adult Patients in a Primary Care Setting.” Batish told AAFP News that he became interested in the topic for both personal and professional reasons.
“I have been impacted personally by the firearm epidemic as my wife and I raised our children while school shootings became a numbing normal in America. My children had several terrifying lockdowns in their own schools due to potential firearm threats,” said Batish.
“Professionally I have been saddened by the many patients whose lives have been destroyed by firearms,” he added. “Family physicians are supposed to prevent disease. I felt I had to contribute in some way in preventing firearm violence in my community.”
Batish said the idea for his research began with a relatively basic premise.
“What if there were a simple screening question like the CAGE questionnaire for alcoholism or the Patient Health Questionnaire-2 for depression that could help a family doctor anticipate a young adult’s risk for future gun violence? We could then have the potential to intervene, counsel and educate. We could prevent disease. I want to see if the SaFETy Score could be such a tool."
Batish’s research will focus on three objectives:
“While gun violence is a leading cause of death in America, there has been almost no research into this epidemic due to the Dickey Amendment passed in 1996,” Batish said. I am very appreciative of the AAFP Foundation and RapSDI in funding this project.”
The cycle 3 application period for the FMD RapSDI program is open for submissions until 5 p.m. CT Aug. 23.
Applicants must be AAFP members who are practicing family physicians at any post-residency stage in their career. They also must be willing to serve as the principal investigator on their project for 12 months, with preference given to qualified applicants that have little to no previous research experience.
The application process is divided into two competitive rounds. All complete round one submissions will be reviewed, and notifications with decisions will be sent beginning in November 2021. Successful round one applicants will be invited to apply for round two.
Applicants invited to submit for round two will work with a mentor to develop a research plan and budget. Those who have not identified a mentor at the time of application will be matched with an AAFP NRN staff member and/or outside research mentor to assist with planning and budgeting.
Staff will also be hosting three open house-style webinars in July and August to answer questions.
Additional details on the application process and the webinars, as well as information for those interested in serving as volunteer peer reviewers or mentors for the RapSDI program, are available at the FMD RapSDI webpage.