The Initiative of German Practice-Based Research Networks – DESAM-ForNet

Leonor Heinz, Nicole Bethge

Keywords: Practice-Based Research Networks, general medicine, primary care, research infrastructure

In the GP’s office, people of all ages receive longitudinal care for a wide range of medical conditions. However, there is a lack of well-founded answers for many relevant questions in general practice. Research results generated in controlled specialty settings are only partially transferable to patients in real-world practices. Doctors and their patients need better evidence – and clinical researchers need a vehicle to carry out research in primary care. Practice-based research networks serve as a bridge connecting the university and the general practice setting to find relevant evidence and to improve population health.

Research questions:
To strengthen the role of family medicine in Germany, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding 6 regional primary care research networks with one coordination office, joined within the Initiative of Practice-Based Research Networks – DESAM-ForNet. The funding period is limited to five years, and it is unclear what will happen afterwards. However, it is hoped to establish common standards within the Initiative to allow cross-network collaboration and to build a sustainable research infrastructure.

The 6 participating networks and the coordination office have been planned as autonomous projects. The challenge to develop a mutual base in research processes (as interoperability of the IT-infrastructure and common criteria for research readiness) is addressed in regular meetings and working groups. A steering committee as a central decision-making body for all matters of the Initiative has been implemented.

With common standards and interoperability between networks, a sustainable foundation for practice-based research will be created. The Initiative aims to accredit and qualify a total of 1700 research practices by the end of 2024.

With the German Initiative of Practice-Based Research Networks – DESAM-ForNet, we want to establish a sustainable infrastructure in the general practice setting enabling research that really matters to GPs and their patients.

Points for discussion: