Regional practice-based network research has grown significantly in the past 15 years. Previous studies have reported on characteristics of physicians who participate in network research, but little is known about the specific a priori research interests of practicing physicians. Knowledge of such interests could be useful in planning network research studies. We conducted a mail survey to assess the research interests of primary care physicians in two contiguous research networks at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) and at Stanford University. Among 120 respondents from the UCSF Collaborative Research Network and 85 from the Stanford Ambulatory Research Network, the most common topics of interest were disease prevention, communication and compliance, and managed care. Among specific conditions, heart disease, hypertension, and respiratory infection were of interest to the majority of respondents. Topics not of interest to network members were obstetrics, diagnostic procedures, alcoholism, drug abuse, tuberculosis, male genito-urinary problems, occupational hazards, domestic violence, and AIDS and HIV. Identification of network physician research interests can help focus research and recruitment efforts on topics of interest and provide estimates of participation levels for planning studies and preparing funding applications for research networks.
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