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Nurse-anchored practice-based research centers help address health disparities

This article highlights the importance of practice-based research networks (PBRNs) in primary health care research and the unique community-based care delivered by nurses in community nursing centers (CNCs). CNCs are in a position to combine the strengths found in community-based participatory research (CBPR) methods with those found within a PBRN to develop and test evidence-based practices to improve health outcomes and decrease health disparities.

The authors point out that CNC services are targeted to individuals and groups whose needs are not being met in the traditional delivery system. For instance, many CNC sites provide primary care management of illness for very low income, underserved clients. They also discuss how to establish a nursing PBRN, describe the Midwest Nursing Centers Consortium Research Network (MNCCRN) located at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee CNC sites, and one of the network's research projects to implement behavior changes in primary care providers and patients at high risk for chronic disease.

They assert that nurses can and must enter the field of CBPR, using the power of community partnerships inherent in practice to integrate primary prevention and health promotion principles into nursing research designs. Currently, there are only two PBRNs funded by the Federal government which are anchored by advanced practice nurses in primary care: MNCCRN and APRNet. APRNet is a network of nurse practitioners in clinical settings throughout New England, which is coordinated by a team at the Yale School of Nursing. The authors call for the establishment of more nurse-anchored PBRNs to develop and test interventions that reduce health disparities in the nation's neediest populations. Their study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS13573).

See "Practice-based research networks: Nursing centers and communities working collaboratively to reduce health disparities," by Laura Anderko, Ph.D., R.N., Claudia Bartz, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., and Sally Lundeen, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., in the December 2005 Nursing Clinics of North America 40, pp. 747-758.

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