Background: Family medicine is a relatively new specialty that has been trying to develop a research base for 30 years. It is unclear how institutional research success and emphasis have affected the research productivity of family medicine departments. Objective: To examine the research infrastructure, productivity, and barriers to productivity in academic family medicine in research intense and less intense institutions. Design, Setting, and Participants: A survey of 124 chairs among institutional members of the Association of Departments of Family Medicine. Departments were categorized as being associated with research intense institutions (defined as the top 40 in National Institute of Health funding) or less intense institutions. Main Outcome Measures: Prioritization of research as a mission, number of funded research grants, total number of research articles published, and number of faculty and staff conducting research. Results: The response rate was 55% (N = 68). Of 5 potential ratings on the survey, research was the fourth highest departmental priority in both categories of institutions. Departments in research intense institutions were larger, had more faculty on investigational tracks, and employed more research support staff (P<.05). Neither category of department published a large number (median = 10 in both groups) of peer-reviewed articles per year. Controlling for the number of full-time equivalent faculty, the departments in less intense institutions published a median of 0.7 articles, while the research intense institutions published 0.5 (P=.30). Departments in research intense institutions received more grant funding (P<.005) in both unadjusted and adjusted analyses. Chairs reported a scarcity of qualified applicants for research physician faculty openings. Conclusion: Future initiatives should focus on prioritizing research and creating a critical mass of researchers in family medicine.
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