How Are We Doing? A Scoping Review of Published Patient-Centered Outcomes Research in United States Student-Run Free Clinics

Francesca Silvestri, George Mellgard, Jonathan Goldstein, Susmita Chennareddy, Justin Tang, Michelle Tran, Isabelle Band, Daniel Qian, Sean Fischer, Abigail Castillo, Joy Jiang, David Skovran, David Thomas, Yasmin S. Meah

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Phenomenon: Student-run free clinics (SRFCs) serve an integral role in most United States (US) medical schools and contribute substantially to literature on the quality of care to uninsured persons. There has been substantial growth over the past decade of scholarly work produced by SRFCs as they have increased in size and number. Research on patient care outcomes informs better care structures for patients, however there is no current synthesis of patient care outcomes research among SRFCs. This article provides an overview of SRFC research on patient outcomes to understand current research domains and to identify gaps in the literature. Approach: We completed a scoping review by searching Scopus, PubMed, and Journal of Student Run Clinics in June 2021. All peer-reviewed, English-language articles focused on patient-centered outcomes at SRFCs in the US were included. Two independent reviewers performed title, abstract, and full-text screening of relevant works, and eight reviewers conducted data extraction. Descriptive data analysis was performed along with relevant content analysis of patient-centered outcomes. Findings: The search strategy identified 784 studies, of which 87 met inclusion criteria. Most studies were published within the last six years (81.6%), located in California, New York, or Florida (43.7%), and intervention based (33.3%). Many studies (46.0%) had a specific disease of focus of which diabetes was the most researched(19.5%). Patient-centered studies were the leading focus of the study aims (40.2%), where key findings demonstrated primarily improved outcomes in clinic metrics post-intervention (36.8%) or equivalent/better clinical performance than national metrics (20.7%). Insights: This review brings to light gaps in the literature reporting research in SRFCs and can be applied to other low-resource settings. Future efforts to expand SRFC outcomes research should focus on community relationship building, understanding institutional support, and ensuring education on best practices for research within SRFCs. Doing so informs patient care improvement as SRFCs continue to operate as safety net clinics for marginalized populations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTeaching and Learning in Medicine
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Student run clinic
  • medical education
  • quality improvement
  • vulnerable populations


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