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Purpose. This systematic review was conducted to assess the evidence for effectiveness of the community oriented primary care (COPC) model and discuss alternative approaches to community medicine practice and education.
Methods. A literature search for all articles referring to COPC was conducted. Articles were categorized by type, and the extent of the use of elements of the COPC model, and the level of community involvement.
Results. The majority of articles on COPC (60% of those reviewed) describe the general theory or educational use of the methodology. Many published studies are project descriptions not utilizing the complete model as initially described. Few of project descriptions include all elements of COPC or document community participation. Evidence for or against the effectiveness of the COPC model in improving community health outcomes (using the Strength of Recommendation Taxonomy (SORT) classification system as evidence) was found to be limited.
Conclusions. Most publications related to COPC do not use the complete COPC model as originally described and evidence for its effectiveness is lacking. Further research with evaluation of community health outcomes and community participation is needed. Diverse models of community health intervention can be considered for training and collaborative practice with underserved populations.