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Practice-based Research Network for registered nurses provides a forum for studying nursing-related practice problems

Practice-based Research Networks (PBRNs) are groups of practices that primarily provide patient care but also are affiliated with each other to study the clinical problems and practice patterns within the group's practices. The number of PBRNs is growing in primary care, but these networks are governed by doctors who created them and address research questions that reflect doctors' practices and perspectives.

The establishment of the first PBRN for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), who routinely provide primary care for underserved and minority populations, provides a forum for studying practice problems and processes related to nursing care. The development of this PBRN, called APRNet, which is supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS11196), is described in a recent article by Margaret Grey, Dr.P.H., F.A.A.N., C.P.N.P., and colleagues at the Yale University School of Nursing.

The APRNet includes nurse practitioners from five other university schools of nursing and is governed by a planning committee, a volunteer advisory board, and a community advisory board. The first APRN Advisory Board meeting was held in May 2001. APRNet's purpose is to conduct and facilitate practice-based research relevant to APRN primary care practice; develop culturally competent, evidence-based practice models for APRNs; and enhance the translation of research findings into primary care practice.

APRNet has initiated two studies: a modification of the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey—which is fielded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics—and a study of data privacy and confidentiality issues of APRNs and their patients. Other studies in the planning stages focus on depression in primary care settings, childhood asthma, and parenting of chronically ill children; each of these topics has clear implications for nursing practice. Ultimately, APRNet will link with other PBRNs to do comparative and collaborative studies.

See "Establishing a practice-based research network of advanced practice registered nurses in southern New England," by Terry Deshefy-Longhi, B.S.N., M.S., Martha K. Swartz, M.S., R.N.C.S., P.N.P., and Dr. Grey, in the May 2002 Nursing Outlook 50, pp. 127-132.

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