The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) defines a practice-based research network (PBRN) as a group with at least 15 ambulatory practices and/or 15 clinicians devoted principally to the primary care of patients, affiliated with each other (and often with an academic or professional organization) in order to investigate questions related to community based practice. A PBRN helps address issues of disconnect between research activity and practice reality sometimes experienced in health care research.
A PBRN such as the AMRIT Project is designed to ensure the research questions and analyses produced are grounded in and therefore are sensitive to the realities of daily routine care.
The defining characteristics of a PBRN include:
- A mission and statement of purpose including an ongoing commitment to research;
- Channels for communication among network participants;
- A Director/Chief Investigator with responsibility for administration of the network and at least one support staff;
- An advisory board that solicits input from communities of patients/practitioners served by the PBRN.
The AMRIT Project is built upon a Sub-Study Model of PBRN design whereby initial recruitment and data collection focuses upon the practitioner population. The PBRN practitioner database then acts as a sustainable resource providing a platform (national in the case of AMRIT) for further research investigations. This Sub-Study Model provides excellent flexibility helping facilitate coordinated ongoing research and capacity building.
A PBRN design such as that employed by the AMRIT project is ideally matched to the current research needs of UK based Ayurvedic Professionals. In particular, the PBRN design of AMRIT affords a broad focus essential to establishing a national, coordinated platform of evidence critical to informing further detailed, specific sub-studies. This is particularly important for UK based professional given the current lack of information around daily care, clinical activity and other important issues. Significantly, such coordinated platform evidence is also vital to contextualising and strengthening the impact of clinically-focused investigations, effectively helping bridge the gap between findings from clinical trials and other related designs and the realities of practitioners and everyday care.
The broad research focus of a PBRN design allows the AMRIT project to accommodate and address investigation of a vast number of issues important to Ayurveda, the profession, patients and the UK health care system more generally. The AMRIT project design will accommodate both qualitative and quantitative research and examination of the efficacy, effectiveness, safety and cost evaluation of aspects of Ayurveda.