Family Medicine Research in the United States – from the Late 1960s into the Future

Document Type


Publication Date



When the new field of family medicine research began a half century ago, multiple individuals and organizations emphasized that research was a key mission. Since the field’s inception, there have been notable research successes for which family medicine organizations, researchers, and leaders – assisted by federal and state governments and private foundations - can take credit. Research is a requirement for family medicine residency programs but not individual residents, and multiple family medicine departments offer research training in various forms for learners at all levels, including research fellowships. Family physicians have developed practice-based research networks (PBRNs) to conduct investigations and generate new knowledge. The field of family medicine has seen the creation of new journals to support the publication of research relevant to practicing family physicians. Nonetheless, in spite of much growth and many successes, family physicians and their research have been underrepresented in research funding. Clinical presentations in family medicine are often complex, poorly-differentiated, and often exist as one of several patient complaints and diagnoses, and are not well-covered by the narrow basic-science and specialty research that defines most of the biomedical research enterprise. Overall health in the United States would benefit from a more robust research participation and greater support for family medicine research.