What is family medicine research?

Family medicine research is research done by family physicians and researchers about clinical practice. This research covers the entire spectrum of clinical problems in primary care as well as the organization and delivery of primary care. Key questions include:

  • Studying the natural history of common problems and major diseases.
  • Understanding how patients, families, communities, and systems deal with health and illness.
  • Improving doctor-patient communication, decision-making, and partnership.
  • Testing systems to improve patient satisfaction, safety, and outcomes.
  • Studying the impact of Information Technology on healthcare delivery and patient care.

Family Medicine research uses a combination of methodologies from the biomedical, health services, public health, and social sciences and is often characterized by teamwork that is interdisciplinary, patient centered, and community based.

Why should family physicians do research?

Research is a critical component to the continued growth and development of the field of family medicine. Most patient care occurs in the offices of primary care physicians, but most research is done in academic medical centres. The community-based office is an ideal laboratory for the study of patients, their problems, physician practices, as well as doctor-patient relationships.

How do family physicians use research?

Some family physicians do research; all use research. In everyday patient care, family physicians evaluate, select, recommend, and explain new information and clinical interventions.

How do I start doing research?

We encourage you to ask questions and to explore your research ideas by talking to a family physician who is doing research, or a researcher within the Department of Family Medicine (see Research interests and Our researchers sections). The first step is to develop research ideas into a solid research question, and to pursue formal research training.

You can develop you own research project, funded or un-funded, with assistance from designated persons within your teaching unit, and/or the Department of Family Medicine. Or, you can work with others clinician researchers, or researchers on existing projects or developing projects.

If you are a resident, The Clinical Scholar Program is an enhanced skills program that will allow you to learn and start doing research.

You can also possibly start a MSc in family medicine



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