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Practice-Based Research Network


pbrn-logoIn 2007, the Research Committee of the National Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) Council and HCH Clinicians’ Network created the nationally-focused HCH Practice-Based Research Network (PBRN). A PBRN is a group of ambulatory practices devoted principally to the primary care of patients, affiliated with each other (and often with an academic or professional organization) in order to investigate questions related to community-based practice. This unique collaboration between HCH clinics across the country specifically focuses on the primary health care needs of people experiencing homelessness. The mission of the HCH PBRN is to facilitate improvement of health care practice and policy for homeless individuals and families through effective use of research.

Typically, PBRNs draw on the experience and HCH PBRN AHRQ Certificate 2015insight of practicing clinicians to identify and frame research questions whose answers can improve the practice of primary care. By linking these questions with rigorous research methods, the PBRN can produce research findings that are immediately relevant to the clinician and, in theory, more easily assimilated into everyday practice.

*The HCH PBRN is a member of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality PBRN Resource Center.


Structure and Project Development

There are currently 62 organizations across the US involved in the HCH PBRN, which is mostly composed of a subset of the more than 250 federally-funded Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) grantees, and their subcontractors dispersed throughout the United States, and Medical Respite Care Programs. Health services are provided through a variety of entities, including community and migrant health centers, departments of public health, hospitals and free-standing non-profit organizations, and in a variety of locations, including permanent clinics, shelters/drop in centers, mobile vans, and on the streets.

The National HCH Council Research Committee (RC), whose membership includes seasoned researchers, HCH PBRN representatives, clinicians, respite care providers, and consumers, reviews proposed projects for their academic soundness, relevance to the field, and feasibility for the HCH setting. If a project is approved by the RC, members of the HCH PBRN will receive an invitation to participate in the study.

Dr. Barbara Wismer

The Director of the HCH PBRN is Dr. Barbara Wismer, Physician of Internal and Preventive Medicine for the Tom Waddell Urban Health Clinic in San Francisco, California. Wismer has worked with homeless people for over 17 years, both as a clinician and an administrator. Prior to her role at the Tom Waddell, Barbara did community-based prevention research at UC Berkeley’s Center for Family and Community Health.


Join the HCH PBRN

Any HCH grantee, medical respite care program, or Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) program may join the PBRN at any time. By becoming a member of this HCH PBRN, you are not obligating your program to participate in any proposed research study. You are only acknowledging that you would like to receive notification of opportunities to participate in research projects. You will also be informed about any funding opportunities targeted for PBRNs, in case you are interested in collaborating with a researcher in your area to submit a research proposal involving the HCH PBRN.

Please contact Alaina Boyer by phone at (615) 226-2292 or if you are interested in joining this network, have research ideas, or have any questions.


Conducting Research with the HCH Practice-Based Research Network

If you would like propose a research project in collaboration with the HCH Practice-Based Research Network, please complete the PBRN Proposal Form and submit it to


Map of Current Members

PBRN Map_20150211

View HCH PBRN Members in a larger map.

This website is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $1,625,741 with 20 percent financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit

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