Medical Research:

National Research Service Awards for Research in Primary Medical Care

HRD-87-20: Published: Jul 31, 1987. Publicly Released: Aug 31, 1987.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the criteria used by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to comply with a statutory requirement that it make available a specified percentage of National Research Service Awards (NRSA) for research in primary medical care.

GAO found that: (1) it was unable to conclude that either NIH or the Health Resources and Services Administration was better suited to administer NRSA; (2) in fiscal 1986, NIH awarded over $200 million in NRSA funds for research that it believed was related to primary care; and (3) NIH compliance and implementation was hampered by the lack of an accepted definition for research in primary medical care. GAO also found that NIH: (1) solicited applications in 1987 for research training in primary care disciplines without properly defining such research; and (2) usually required that trainees provide written assurance that they would pursue careers in primary medical care research and also required them to perform payback service in research areas of their choice.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The agency disagreed. Legislation has not been introduced in Congress to define research in primary medical care. There has been no discussion of this issue on the Hill for over 1 year.

    Matter: Congress should consider amending the Public Health Service Act to define what constitutes research in primary medical care for purposes of implementing section 487(d)(3).


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