Card studies for observational research in practice

Ann Fam Med. 2011 Jan-Feb;9(1):63-8. doi: 10.1370/afm.1199.


Purpose: Observational studies that collect patient-level survey data at the point-of-care are often called card studies. Card studies have been used to describe clinical problems, management, and outcomes in primary care for more than 30 years. In this article we describe 2 types of card studies and the methods for conducting them.

Methods: We undertook a descriptive review of card studies conducted in 3 Colorado practice-based research networks and several other networks throughout the United States. We summarized experiences of the State Networks of Colorado Ambulatory Practices and Partners (SNOCAP).

Results: Card studies can be designed to study specific conditions or care (clinicians complete a card when they encounter patients who meet inclusion criteria) and to determine trends and prevalence of conditions (clinicians complete a card on all patients seen during a period). Data can be collected from clinicians and patients and can be linked.

Conclusions: Card studies provide cross-sectional descriptive data about clinical care, knowledge and behavior, perception of care, and prevalence of conditions. Card studies remain a robust method for describing primary care.

MeSH terms

  • Colorado
  • Data Collection / economics
  • Data Collection / methods*
  • Humans
  • Patients
  • Physicians
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Research Design*
  • Statistics as Topic