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What are PURLs?
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Priority Updates from the Research Literature Surveillance system

The PURLS system was developed in a collaborative partnership of the Family Physicians Inquiries Network (FPIN) and The Journal of Family Practice as an objective of the University of Chicago Institute for Translational Medicine, funded through a Clinical Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health. We have developed a knowledge translation system called PURLs that exclusively targets newly published research expected to actually change family medicine and primary care practice. For an example of a published PURL, click here.

PURLs generate new evidence-based recommendations for practice for family physicians and other primary care clinicians. PURLs are stimulated by the publication of new research that meets criteria for a new recommendation to change practice. The completed PURLs are published exclusively in The Journal of Family Practice. To learn more about PURLs published in JFP go HERE 

What are the criteria for PURLs?

Each PURL must meet six criteria:

  1. Relevance to family medicine and primary care
  2.  Valid: Scientific validity, including integration of prior research
  3. Change in Practice: Leads to a change from the current prevailing practice
  4. Applicable to Medical Care: The new practice approach is applicable in a medical care setting
  5. Immediately Applicable: The new practice is immediately applicable.
  6. Clinically Meaningful: Expected benefits outweigh expected harms.

What is the purpose of the PURLs Surveillance System?

The purpose of the PURLs Surveillance System is to engage communities of clinicians and methodologists in the identification, evaluation, and dissemination of PURLs; and to accelerate the translation of new research findings into clinical practice.

What is the process for identifying and evaluating PURLs?

There are five steps in the identification and evaluation of a PURL:

  1. Nomination of a Potential PURL: Many designated family physicians perform literature surveillance of multiple sources for new research and nominate studies via e-mail that seem like they might change practice as judged by reading the abstract. If the PURLs Editor agrees, then the study is assigned for formal review as a Potential PURL.
  2.  Review of a Potential PURL: This includes a formal critical appraisal and literature review which is recorded on a standardized form (the Potential PURL Review Form), submitted to the PURLs Editor and presented to a peer group at a PURL Jam, similar to a journal club format. If the study seems as though it will meet criteria for a PURL and is approved by the PURLs Editor, it goes to the next step, Pending PURL for Review.
  3. Pending PURL: In this step the PURLs editor sends the review to The Journal of Family Practice. The study and written summary of the findings from the first three steps of the review are evaluated by the JFP editor, who either accepts it as a topic for a PURL manuscript for publication or not.
  4. PURL Manuscript Preparation: If the JFP Editor accepts the study as a PURL, then a manuscript summarizing the practice change, the summary of the study, and our analysis is written for publication in JFP as a PURL.
  5. PURLs Instant Polls: Online “instant” polls are conducted to engage practicing physicians in dialogue and feedback about the new practice recommendation in the PURL as a part of evaluating and disseminating the research. We believe that the publication of a PURL is only one step in the process of evaluating research that changes practice.

What sources are used to nominate Potential PURLs?
The PURL surveillance team, a group of 12 physicians from ten departments of family medicine, nominates articles from 27 primary journals and secondary sources. The nomination listserv consists of over 50 physicians around the country who weigh in on the PURL hood of nominations.

In addition, nominations are accepted from any source. Our goal is to identify every research study that should lead to a change in practice for family physicians and other primary care clinicians so if we have missed any studies through our formal surveillance systems, we want to hear about them. If we have missed a study we will review it and seriously consider it as a PURL.

How does the system work?

Many steps and many people are involved is selecting and producing a PURL. The methodology includes surveillance of primary and secondary literature; critical appraisal of the potential PURLs identified; review of the related literature; and a vigorous peer review, clinical review, and editorial review process.

Who should I contact for more information?

Contact the PURLs Project Manager, Laura Conlee Russell at, for more information. Too find the latest PURL published in JFP, click here.


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