Background: As of today, 50% of Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA)-funded Academic Health Centers are engaging community clinicians through the practice-based research network (PBRN) mechanism, which has been identified as a best practice by the CTSA National Leadership. A PBRN is an organization of community clinicians who work together with researchers to answer meaningful questions that will improve patient care.
Methods: This paper outlines the steps that were led to success during the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio's journey of developing four PBRNs over 3 years: (1) identifying network directors; (2) deciding who to include; (3) obtaining recruitment lists; (4) sending out mailers; (5) hosting the first PBRN meeting; (6) gaining institutional review board (IRB) approval; (7) launching a simple study; (8) returning the findings; and (9) formalizing the PBRN and moving forward.
Results: CTSAs will continue to seek ways to effectively engage community members in the clinical translation process.
Conclusions: PBRNs are a promising laboratory for generating research questions directly from clinicians, conducting meaningful research, and then disseminating the findings to the larger community to accelerate positive change.