12 Primary Care Practice: Uncertainty and Surprise

  • Benjamin F. Crabtree
Section IIIC Fundamental Unce rtainty and the Delivery of Health Care
Part of the Understanding Complex Systems book series (UCS)


I will focus my comments on uncertainty and surprise in primary care practices. I am a medical anthropologist by training, and have been a full-time researcher in family medicine for close to twenty years. In this talk I want to look at primary care practices as complex systems, particularly taking the perspective of translating evidence into practice. I am going to discuss briefly the challenges we have in primary care, and in medicine in general, of translating new evidence into the everyday care of patients. To do this, I will look at two studies that we have conducted on family practices, then think about how practices can be best characterized as complex adaptive systems. Finally, I will focus on the implications of this portrayal for disseminating new knowledge into practice.


Primary Care Practice Continue Medical Education Fitness Landscape Complex Adaptive System Complexity Science 
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Authors and Affiliations

  • Benjamin F. Crabtree
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Family Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey 

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