About AHRQ's National Center for Excellence in Primary Care Research
The National Center for Excellence in Primary Care Research (NCEPCR) is the home for primary care research at AHRQ. NCEPCR is focused on strengthening the Nation's primary care system, providing evidence, practical tools, and other resources for researchers and evaluators, clinicians and clinical teams, quality improvement experts, and healthcare decision makers to improve the quality and safety of care.
NCEPCR envisions a future where all patients receive high quality, whole person, evidence-based, affordable primary health care from a healthy primary care workforce.
NCEPCR’s mission is to support transformative primary care research*, tools and methods for implementation, and the next generation of primary care researchers to improve the delivery of primary care.
To achieve this mission, the purpose of NCEPCR is to:
- Coordinate primary care research activities across AHRQ.
- Curate and synthesize information about primary care research across federal HHS agencies.
- Communicate important primary care research findings to the field.
- Convene primary care stakeholders to galvanize new research directions to accelerate the dissemination and implementation of evidence into practice.
- Catalyze new and innovative primary care research by identifying research gaps and funding primary care research projects.
- Cultivate a diverse primary care research workforce by funding investigator-initiated primary care research.
NCEPCR holds core values that are the foundation of a culture of primary care research excellence:
- Equity—we support the ethical integration of equity and cultural humility into primary care research methods, approaches, frameworks, and procedures.
- Community engagement—we believe that listening to, learning from, and collaborating with primary care patients, families, clinicians, researchers, and other stakeholders creates stronger research.
- Innovation—we respect new and diverse ways of seeing the world and encourage creative approaches to conducting primary care research and identifying solutions to complex problems.
- Sustainability—we aim to build evidence that demonstrates positive, equitable primary health care outcomes that can be reproduced and sustained over time.
- Adaptability—in a rapidly changing environment, we will adjust to new challenges and new information.
*Primary care research: research conducted for the purpose of better understanding or improving primary care1; more specifically, it is research that is a) conducted in a primary care setting, b) about primary care patients, clinicians, or teams, or c) on a topic that is integral to, or has direct implications for, the delivery of primary care.
1Primary care: High-quality primary care is the provision of whole person, integrated, accessible, and equitable health care by interprofessional teams who are accountable for addressing the majority of an individual’s health and wellness needs across settings and through sustained relationships with patients, families, and communities (NASEM 2021). The four primary care core functions (Starfield 1998) are:
- First Contact—access and use of primary health care services whenever necessary; the main point of entry into the health system.
- Comprehensiveness—the capacity to provide most of what patients need throughout a patient’s life course, including promotion, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment for a range of health conditions appropriate to the primary care context.
- Coordination— the integration of all the care the user receives and needs with the other health services so that patients receive appropriate care for all their health problems.
- Continuity—longitudinal use of a regular clinician, fostering mutual trust over time.
In 1990, AHRQ (in its previous incarnation as the Agency for Healthcare Policy and Research (AHCPR)) sponsored a national conference entitled Primary Care Research: An Agenda for the 90’s, which produced a summary report and primary care research agenda centered on the patient, the practitioner, the problem, and the clinical process of care as they exist and interact with the social structure, the community, practice or program, and healthcare system.
AHRQ’s 1999 authorizing legislation included the establishment of a Center for Primary Care Research that would “serve as the principal source of funding for primary care practice research in the Department of Health and Human Services,” making AHRQ the only federal agency with the statutory authority to be the home for primary care research.
NCEPCR held a Primary Care Research Conference in December 2020 to update insights from the 1990 primary care research conference and provide guidance to AHRQ on a primary care research agenda for the 2020s. Details of the conference and the conference proceedings are here.
For additional information, contact:
Aimee R. Eden, PhD, MPH
Acting Director, National Center for Excellence in Primary Care Research
Center for Evidence and Practice Improvement