Evaluating primary care research networks: a review of currently available tools

J Am Board Fam Med. 2010 Jul-Aug;23(4):465-75. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2010.04.090297.


Background: An increasing number of primary care research networks (PCRNs) are being developed around the world. Despite the fact that they have existed for a long time in some countries, little is known about what they have actually achieved. There is an ongoing debate in the literature about the appropriate framework for the evaluation of PCRNs. Here, we aim to provide an overview of the tools that are currently available for measuring the performance of PCRNs and practices involved in PCRNs or research.

Methods: We performed electronic searches in bibliographic databases and several additional searches. We composed a checklist to evaluate the design, content, and methodological quality of the tools.

Results: We identified 4 tools for the evaluation of PCRNs or the measurement of primary care practices involved in PCRNs or research.

Conclusions: The results of our study showed that various methods, areas of interest, dimensions, and indicators for the evaluation of PCRNs have been proposed. However, no generic and validated tool that enables meaningful comparison between different network models has been developed. It is, therefore, time to reflect on the appropriateness and effectiveness of PCRNs and determine the desired outcomes (ends) of PCRNs and how we can best achieve them in the future (means). To open up the "black box" of the effectiveness of the PCRNs, it may be relevant to observe the effects of network and research participation on those involved in networks.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Community Networks
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Health Services Research / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care / methods*
  • Primary Health Care / methods
  • Primary Health Care / standards*