Background: Family medicine lacks a tradition of research training during residency. Previous studies of research during residency have surveyed faculty to assess residents' research interests. In contrast, we directly assessed research interest and activity during residency by surveying all 203 Wisconsin family practice residents.
Methods: The survey instrument was a questionnaire that included questions about the appropriateness of research experience, interest in pursuing research during residency, involvement in research, and perceptions regarding program research support. The importance of factors that encourage research were evaluated. We then used stepwise discriminant analysis to assess whether residents with different levels of interest in research had different perceptions about program support and environmental factors that promote research.
Results: Of 143 respondents, most (85%) felt research experience was desirable, and 48% were interested in pursuing research during residency. Only 8% were active in research. Although faculty were perceived as having sufficient research skills and encouraging resident research, few residents responded that dedicated time, seminars on goals and methods of family practice research, or funding were available. Residents with research interests were more likely to respond that their faculty had sufficient research skills and knowledge. Active researchers rated time availability and access to resource personnel as highly important. Those interested, but not active, rated basic information, assistance in identifying topics, and a forum for presentation as highly important.
Conclusion: Exposure to skilled and knowledgeable faculty researchers may stimulate interest in research. Teaching research goals and methods, assisting in identifying topics, and providing research forums, especially early in residency, may promote research activity. Dedicated time for research and availability of resource personnel will enhance this activity.