Page 1 of 1

Research Agenda for Primary Care

Fact Sheet

Addressing a broad range of issues in clinical and social sciences, the research agenda of the Center for Primary Care Research extends beyond traditional health services research.


The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's (AHRQ's) Center for Primary Care Research (CPCR) conduct and support research on the provision of primary care, including the systems and policies that affect practices.1

CPCR's primary care research agenda extends beyond traditional health services research to address a broad range of issues in the clinical and social sciences.

The agenda involves studies conducted in primary care settings, as well as the analysis of secondary data, and addresses both extramural (sponsored through grant funds) and intramural (conducted by staff) research. CPCR's major research areas are:

  1. First contact care, when illness or health concerns arise.
  2. The natural history, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of health conditions seen in primary care settings, including the management of commonly occurring and undifferentiated clinical problems.
  3. The nature, characteristics, and organization of primary care practice.
  4. Health care decisionmaking and the relationship between the clinician and the patient in the context of the family and community.
  5. The continuity and coordination of primary care services, including referrals and the interface of primary and specialty care.

1For a more comprehensive definition developed by a committee of the Institute of Medicine see: Primary Care: America's Health in a New Era, National Academy Press, 1996

CPCR Research Agenda

While acknowledging that CPCR's research agenda constantly evolves in response to changes in research knowledge, primary care practice and policy, and staff and investigator interests, the following list highlights CPCR's current areas of research interest, with examples of relevant topics in each area.

Integrated care

  • Coordination of services across providers and sites of care.
  • Communication and information transfer, including the role of information technology.


  • Monitoring, understanding, and reducing racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and geographic disparities.
  • Assessing and improving the quality of primary care.

Accessible Health Care Services

  • Impact of usual source of care on use of primary and specialty care.
  • Evaluating different models of providing access to care.
  • Assessing cultural competency and its impact on primary care.


  • Role of generalists and specialists in the delivery of health care services.
  • Issues of workforce planning.
  • How health care working conditions affect primary care providers and the care they provide.

Addressing the Full Range of Personal Health Needs

  • Health services access and utilization, including curative and preventive treatment, wellness care, and alternative care.
  • Historically understudied areas of primary care, such as mental health, dental care, and social services, and their impact on health status and outcomes.

Developing Sustained Partnerships With Patients

  • Shared decision making and the effect of sustained provider-patient relationships on prevention, acute and chronic care, and well being.
  • Communication and information transfer between patients and providers.

Family and Community

  • How social support and social networks influence health care, and the role of family and culture in health-seeking activities and clinical decision making.
  • Role of community-based organizations and institutions on access to care, including care in the home.

Review Process

All extramural and intramural research supported by AHRQ is peer reviewed by individuals with appropriate expertise. Applications for extramural research grants can be submitted by both public and private organizations and are formally reviewed by a study section or special emphasis panel for scientific and technical merit.

Decisions on funding approved extramural research applications are based on the quality of the proposed project, availability of funds, and program balance among research areas. Through the Center's concept paper review process, CPCR staff are able to provide an initial review of potential primary care-related projects prior to the submission of a formal grant application.

Proposals for intramural research (to be conducted by CPCR staff) are also peer-reviewed for technical merit, relevance to the CPCR research agenda, and potential contribution to the AHRQ strategic plan and to the peer-reviewed literature.

Current as of February 2002
Internet Citation: Research Agenda for Primary Care: Fact Sheet. February 2002. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.