Bioterrorism Preparedness of Family Physicians

Study Description and Methods

This was a survey conducted 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.

Specific Aims and Objectives

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.



This project was conducted from October of 2000 through September of 2001.


This project is currently closed.  


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(6 page PDF). Chen FM, Hickner J, Fink KS, et al.  J Fam Pract 2002;51:745-749.

Contact Information

For additional information about this study, please contact:

AAFP National Research Network
1-800-274-2237 x3180

This study was funded by a grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).