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Douglas Fernald, BA, MA

Senior Instructor, BIGHORN Director, CaReNet Assistant Director


Mail Stop F496, Academic Office 1

12631 East 17th Avenue

Aurora, CO 80045


303-724-9705 Office


I have been fortunate to be able to pursue my interests and apply my training as an anthropologist to a rich variety of research and evaluation projects, tackling some of the most difficult health issues we face: preventable diseases and chronic diseases.  The greatest reward comes from working alongside the most intellectually curious and hardest working family physicians and primary care researchers out there.


My research interests include practice redesign to improve health behavior change, prevention, chronic disease management, safety, and patient-centered care. Recent work includes studies looking at implementing the patient-centered medical home in family medicine residency clinics, barriers and facilitators to health information exchange adoption, the use of health risk assessments in primary care, and understanding the integration of mental and behavioral health with primary care.  Past work also includes the use of brief measures to assess and monitor multiple healthy behaviors in routine primary care practice.  In addition to these research interests, I also have expertise in qualitative research methods and evaluation.  I recently concluded work as the lead evaluator for the state’s Cancer, Cardiovascular, and Pulmonary Disease competitive grants program, developing a reporting system that incorporates elements of the RE-AIM model into routine progress reporting.


I am currently the director of BIGHORN, a practice based research network of private practices in Colorado.  I am also the assistant director of CaReNet, a practice-based research network working in practices that see underserved patient populations.  In addition to practice-based research, I actively present research findings at national and international conferences and peer review research articles for several journals. I serve as a senior analyst for Advancing Care Together (ACT), a four-year program discovering practical models to integrate mental health, substance use, and primary care services..

I also teach short courses on using ATLAS.ti, a qualitative data analysis software package.


• North American Primary Care Research Group

• Society of Teachers of Family Medicine


1. Fernald DH, Staudenmaier AC, Tressler CJ, Main DS, O'Brien-Gonzales A, Barley GE. Student perspectives on primary care preceptorships: enhancing the medical student preceptorship learning environment. Teach Learn Med 2001 Winter;13(1):13-20.

2. Fernald DH, Main DS, Tressler CJ, Nearing KAJ. Building capacity in small community-based health promotion programs: The Community Action for Health Promotion Initiative. Easterling DV, Gallagher KM, Lodgwick DG, Eds. Promoting Health at the Community Level. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc., 2003:99-120.

3. Bayliss EA, Steiner JF, Fernald DH, Crane LA, Main DS. Descriptions of barriers to self-care by persons with comorbid chronic diseases. Ann Fam Med 2003 May;1(1):15-21.

4. Fernald DH, Pace WD, Harris DM, West DR, Main DS, Westfall JM.  Event reporting to a primary care patient safety reporting system: A report from the ASIPS Collaborative. Ann Fam Med. 2004 July/August;2(4):1-6.

5. Westfall JM, Fernald DH, Staton EW, VanVorst R, West D, Pace WD. Applied Strategies for Improving Patient Safety: A comprehensive process to improve care in rural and frontier communities.  J Rural Hlth. 2004 Fall; 20(4):355-362.

6. Glasgow RE, Ory MG, Klesges LM, Cifuentes M, Fernald DH, Green LA. Practical and Relevant Self-Report Measures of Patient Health Behaviors for Primary Care Research.  Ann Fam Med.  2005; 3:(1)73-81.

7. Hickner JM, Fernald DH, Harris DM, Poon EG, Elder NC, Mold JW. Issues and Initiatives in the Testing Process in Primary Care Physician Offices. Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety. 2005;31:(2)81-89.

8. Harris DM, Westfall JM, Fernald DH, Duclos CW, West DR, Niebauer L, Marr L, Quintela J, Main DS. Mixed methods analysis medical error reports:  A report from the ASIPS Collaborative. In Henrikson K, Battles JB, Marks E, and Lewin DI, eds. Advances in Patient Safety: From Research to Implementation. Vol. 2, Concepts and Methodology.  AHRQ Publication No. 05-0021-2.  Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; Feb 2005:133-147.

9. Fernald DH, Duclos CW.  Enhance your team-based qualitative research.  Ann Fam Med. 2005;3:360-4 

10. Cifuentes M, Fernald DH, Green LA, Niebauer LJ, Crabtree BF, Hassmiller SB.  Prescription for Health: Changing Primary Care Practice to Foster Healthy Behaviors.  Ann Fam Med.  2005;3 Suppl 2:S4-11. 

11. Hansen LB, Fernald D, Araya-Guerra, Westfall JM, West D, Pace W. Pharmacy Clarification of Prescriptions Ordered in Primary Care: A Report from the Applied Strategies for Improving Patient Safety (ASIPS) Collaborative.  J Am Board Fam Med. 2006;19:24-30.

12. Hildebrandt DE, Westfall JM, Fernald DH, Pace WD.  Harm Resulting from Inappropriate Telephone Triage in Primary Care. J Am Board Fam Med. 2006; 19:437-442.

13. Parnes B, Fernald D, Quintela J, Araya-Guerra R, Westfall J, Harris D, et al. Stopping the error cascade: a report on ameliorators from the ASIPS collaborative. Qual Saf Health Care 2007 Feb;16(1):12-6.

14. Van Vorst RF, Araya-Guerra R, Felzien M, Fernald D, Elder N, Duclos C, et al. Rural Community Members' Perceptions of Harm from Medical Mistakes: A High Plains Research Network (HPRN) Study. J Am Board Fam Med 2007 Mar;20(2):135-43.

15. Padilla R, Bull S, Raghunath SG, Fernald D, Havranek EP, Steiner JF.  Designing a Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Web Site for Latinos: Qualitative Community Feedback.  Health Promotion Practice.  2008 Apr 2 (on line).

16. Voorhees K, Fernald DH, Emsermann C, Zittleman L, Smith PC, Parnes B, Winkelman K, Westfall JM. Underinsurance in Primary Care: A report from the State Networks of Colorado Ambulatory Practices and Partners (SNOCAP).  J Am Board Fam Med 2008 Jul 1;21(4):309-16.

17. Fernald DH, Froshaug DB, Dickinson LM, Balasubramanian, BA, Dodoo MS, Holtrop JS, Hung, DY, Glasgow RE, Niebauer LJ, Green LA. Common Measures, Better Outcomes (COMBO): A Field Test of Brief Health Behavior Measures in Primary Care. Am J Prev Med.  2008; 35(5):S414-S422

18. Balasubramanian BA, Cohen DJ, Clark EC, Isaacson NF, Hung DY, Dickinson LM, Fernald DH, Green LA, Crabtree BF: Practice-level approaches for behavioral counseling and patient health behaviors. Am J Prev Med 2008; 35(5):S407-S413.

19. Hung DY, Glasgow RE, Dickinson LM, Froshaug DB, Fernald DH, Balasubramanian BA, Green LA: The chronic care model and relationships to patient health status and health-related quality of life. Am J Prev Med. 2008; 35(5):S398-S406.

20. Froshaug DB, Dickinson LM, Fernald DH, Green LA. Personal Health Behaviors are Associated with Physical and Mental Unhealthy Days: A Prescription for Health (P4H) Practice-based Research Networks Study. J Am Board Fam Med.  2009 July 1;22(4):368-74.

21. Ross SE, Schilling LM, Fernald DH, Davidson AJ, West DR. Health information exchange in small-to-medium sized family medicine practices: Motivators, barriers, and potential facilitators of adoption. Int J Med Inform. 2010 January 8.

22. Westfall JM, Zittleman L, Staton EW, Parnes B, Smith PC, Niebauer LJ, et al. Card studies for observational research in practice. Ann Fam Med. 2011;9(1):63-8.

23. Fernald DH, Deaner N, Neill CO, Jortberg BT, Verloin F, Dickinson WP. Overcoming Early Barriers to Family Medicine Residencies. Family Medicine. 2011;43(7):503-509.

24. Leverence RR, Williams RL, Potter M, Fernald D, Unverzagt M, Pace W, et al. Chronic non-cancer pain: a siren for primary care--a report from the PRImary care MultiEthnic Network (PRIME Net). J Am Board Fam Med. 2011;24(5):551-61.

25. Rhyne R, Sussman AL, Fernald D, Weller N, Daniels E, Williams RL. Reports of persistent change in the clinical encounter following research participation: a report from the Primary Care Multiethnic Network (PRIME Net). J Am Board Fam Med. 2011;24(5):496-502.

26. Parnes B, Fernald D, Coombs L, Dealleaume L, Brandt E, Webster B, et al. Improving the Management of Skin and Soft Tissue Infections in Primary Care: A Report From State Networks of Colorado Ambulatory Practices and Partners (SNOCAP-USA) and the Distributed Ambulatory Research in Therapeutics Network (DARTNet). J Am Board Fam Med. 2011;24(5):534-42.