BOX 4.3 Practice-Based Research Networks
Practice-based research networks provide a model of collaborative learning among providers. Models exist in several branches of medicine, including the Pediatric Research in Office Settings (PROS) network of the American Academy of Pediatrics (Wasserman et al., 1992), the Ambulatory Sentinel Practice Network (ASPN) of the American Academy of Family Physicians (Green at al, 1984; Niebauer and, Nutting, 1994), and the Practice Research Network (PRN) of the American Psychiatric Association (Zarin et al., 1997). These networks are composed of practicing clinicians who collaborate in collecting data and carrying out research, ranging from multi-site clinical trials to the assessment of service delivery mechanisms.
Each of these networks has a geographically dispersed national sample of between 700 and 1200 physicians who have agreed to collect clinical and demographic data for the purpose of answering questions relevant to their clinical practice, Including patients' clinical status, treatments provided, and patient outcomes. Such networks provide a natural laboratory for field trials designed to assess methods of disseminating and encouraging the use of practice guidelines and the subsequent effect of guideline use on the delivery and outcome of patient care.