Author Instructions

Family Medicine publishes original research, systematic reviews, narrative essays, and policy analyses relevant to the discipline of family medicine, particularly focusing on primary care medical education, health workforce policy, and health services research. The journal does not publish clinical review articles.

The journal publishes online 10 issues a year, with combination issues in July-August and November-December. Family Medicine is indexed in Index Medicus, EMBASE/Excerpta Medica, Health and Psychosocial Instruments, Current Contents®/Clinical Medicine, Science Citation Index, and select articles from the Educational Resources Information Center Clearinghouse on Higher Education. 

Revised January, 2023.

Submit manuscripts using our Online Manuscript Submission System.

Manuscript Types

Original Articles

Original articles are scholarly manuscripts describing original research, in-depth analyses, or systematic reviews germane to the broad disciplines of family medicine and primary care in the US and internationally. If you are interested in submitting a manuscript as an original article, please use the general categories shown below as a guide: 

  1. Educational Research: Original research papers about the educational process in family medicine and primary care are the major focus of the journal. Such articles might describe the content and effectiveness of educational innovations pertinent to medical students, residents, fellows, academic physicians and scientists, interdisciplinary primary care teams, or practicing physicians. Original articles should describe ideas that might be generalized to multiple institutions or programs and must include a rigorous evaluation process.  Interventions limited to a single institution should be submitted in the Brief Report category.

    In general, educational evaluation can be classified by four levels of sophistication (Kirkpatrick Levels) as follows:

    Level 1: Evaluates learner reaction to the innovation such as attendance, participation, and learner opinion.
    Level 2: Evaluates learner acquisition of knowledge or skills by methods such as learner pre- and post-testing.
    Level 3: Evaluates learner behavior change as a result of completing the educational program.
    Level 4: Evaluates the impact of the educational program on specific clinical outcomes.

    Family Medicine does not publish papers that use only Kirkpatrick level 1 evaluations and rarely publishes papers with only level 2 evaluations
  1. Systematic Reviews or Meta-analyses about Education in the Health Professions: Systematic reviews of fundamental methods and skills that impact family medicine and primary care education are welcome. These papers should be thoroughly referenced and should provide new or original insight into the educational process.

  2. Health Policy Analyses: These data-driven papers should be about health policy topics at the international, national, or regional level that impact family medicine and primary care.  Papers addressing policy issues related to the health professions workforce needed to care for patient populations in the United States or internationally are particularly welcome.

Brief Reports

Brief reports will be considered using the same criteria as listed above for original articles. Brief reports can be smaller in scope and may be less generalizable to other settings but should be equal in rigor to original articles. Education research papers focused on a single program or institution or program with a limited number of subjects should be submitted as brief reports. Word limit on brief reports is 1,200 words.

Narrative Essays

Family medicine is a discipline defined as much by our stories as by our science. Narrative essays published in Family Medicine should be stories (or poems) from clinical practice or from the educational setting and may be submitted by teachers, learners, patients, or health professionals. Narrative essays published in the journal are considered to be scholarly articles and will be peer-reviewed carefully.

Essays and poetry discussing the experiences of practicing clinicians, educators, or learners relating to the care of patients, the practice of family medicine, or teaching are welcome. 

These papers should describe compelling personal stories about clinical or educational encounters that will evoke reflection, recognition, appreciation, or inspiration in the reader. Not only should the essay provoke reflection in the reader, it should show evidence that the author has also reflected on and gained insight from the event described. In general, narrative essays should illuminate the unique complexity and genuine personal dimensions of patient care and education in family medicine, primary care, or community medicine. Narrative essays should not include an abstract and references should be kept to a minimum. Tables and figures are discouraged.

A cover letter accompanying a narrative essay should identify the author’s perspective and should provide a context for the work. If a manuscript describes particular patients, please follow HIPAA guidelines and make any necessary alterations in factual details to ensure patient confidentiality. Letters of permission to report information about identifiable persons should accompany the manuscript. Family Medicine occasionally publishes original poems in this section of the journal. Such poems should adhere to the same manuscript restrictions as other narrative essay submissions.

Letters to the Editor

A “Letter to the Editor” manuscript should comment on articles published in the journal within the last 12 months, or discuss current issues relevant to family medicine education or practice.  Preference will be given to letters adding fresh perspective to ongoing debate and discussion of issues important to family physicians and educators. All manuscripts will be reviewed by the editorial team to ensure appropriate content for publication.

Book and Media Reviewers

Book and Media Reviews present critical analysis and commentary on recently published books, electronic resources, and other media that are pertinent to the teaching and practice of family medicine. Most reviews are invited. Publishers who wish to submit books for possible inclusion in Family Medicine’s book and media reviews section should send texts to Sam Grammer, Publications Manager, Family Medicine, Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, 11400 Tomahawk Creek Parkway, Leawood, KS 66211. Those interested in writing book or media reviews for publication should contact William Cayley, Jr, MD, book and media reviews editor, by email at

Special Articles and Commentaries 

Special articles or commentaries may be submitted only by invitation from the editor. This category is reserved for scholarly papers important to the discipline of family medicine that are not appropriate as original articles, brief reports, narrative essays, or letters to the editor.

Manuscript Preparation

Manuscripts must be prepared in the format described below. Carefully doing so will improve the likelihood that peer reviewers will rate the manuscript favorably.

  • All manuscripts should be composed in a manner consistent with the uniform instructions for authors as published in the “Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals” which can be found at:
  • The preferred electronic text format for all manuscripts is Microsoft Word.

  • Manuscript Format: The entire manuscript, including title pages, abstract, main text, reference list, and acknowledgments, should be double-spaced in an 8-1/2” x 11” portrait layout format with one-inch (1”) page margins and a 12-point font. Tables and figures may be single-spaced. Position all tables and figures in the main body text, after the reference list.

  • For all new submissions, authors should assure that all “track changes” notations have been removed from the document.

  • All revised manuscripts should be submitted with “track changes” turned on to allow reviewers to evaluate the revisions.

  • All authors and their affiliations should be identified on the title pages and all conflicts of interest must be disclosed at the time of submission (also on the title pages). All authors are responsible for the entire content of each submission. Author names should only appear on the title page if the authors meet the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors definition of authors. Contributors not meeting the ICMJE criteria for authorship may be mentioned within an Acknowledgments section of the manuscript.

  • Authors’ names should appear only on the title pages or in references. List all author names and academic degrees on a single line (do not use separate paragraphs for each author name), separating names by a semicolon (;). List author affiliations on a separate line immediately below the author names, indicating author/affiliation associations by the use of superscript numeral, eg: 
    Matthew Traxler, MD1; Jamie Borick, MD2
    1University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics, Department of Family Medicine, Iowa City, IA
    2Borinquen Medical Center, Department of Family Medicine, Miami, FL

  • All original research papers or brief reports must have approval or exemption by an appropriate institutional review board (IRB), and this must be explicitly stated in the Methods section of the paper.

  • Manuscripts should be clear, succinct, and well documented. Manuscripts must be well written and correctly use syntax, grammar, spelling, and symbols to assure accurate transmission of information. In general, authors should avoid passive construction.

  • Manuscripts should use gender and ability inclusive language and avoid sexual and racial bias. When describing under-represented racial and ethnic categories, authors should use the same language that research subjects used to define themselves whenever possible. We recognize that some studies are limited by the demographic data sources that are available to them. The sources and limitations of data describing race, ethnicity, and gender, should be clearly described in the research methods. Authors should also explain in the methods section how and why they used the demographic variables in their study. Terms such as “persons of color”, “non-white persons”, and “ethnic minorities” should be avoided, but if they are used, authors should specifically list which groups were included in their definitions of these terms. The term under-represented in medicine can be used in papers addressing disparities in the health workforce, but authors should specify which groups were included in the study’s definition of this term.

  • When the term "other" is used to categorize subjects, efforts should be made to specify groups included in this designation and why the term is used.  

  • Abbreviations and acronyms should be kept to a minimum and spelled out on first mention.

  • All pharmaceutical names should be generic.

  • HEADINGS: Use all capital letters, centered and underlined, for major section headings. Subheadings are encouraged and should be left-justified and underlined.

  • Justify only the left-hand margin. Do not hyphenate words at the margin. Use one space, not two, following the period at the end of each sentence. The manuscript should not include a running header or footer.

  • The main text document should include the title page, abstract, references, and any tables and figures (in that order) and all pages should be numbered.

  • References must be formatted according to AMA style. Do not format references as footnotes.
  • Reference citations within the manuscript body must be formatted as numerals within brackets, and inline (not superscripted), eg:
    "Chronic pain affects between 18% and 34.5% of the US population and has been a common complaint of many patients who seek primary care.[1-4]" 
  • References in the reference list may be presented as a standard numbered list, not using bracketed numerals, eg:
  1. Yong RJ, Mullins PM, Bhattacharyya N. Prevalence of chronic pain among adults in the United States. Pain. 2022;163(2):e328-e332. 
  2. Nahin RL. Estimates of pain prevalence and severity in adults: United States, 2012. J Pain. 2015;16(8):769-780. 
  3. Schappert SM, Burt CW. Ambulatory care visits to physician offices, hospital outpatient departments, and emergency departments: United States, 2001-02. Vital Health Stat 13. 2006;(159):1-66.
  4. Seal K, Becker W, Tighe J, Li Y, Rife T. Managing chronic pain in primary care: it really does take a village. J Gen Intern Med. 2017;32(8):931-934. 

Manuscript Elements

In the order in which they should appear, the elements of the manuscript include the following:

  • Title Page (All Manuscripts): The title pages should include the following information:
  • Manuscript Title: Limit to 75 characters in length: it should be descriptive and summarize the most important point of the manuscript.
  • Authors: Name, professional degree, and institutional affiliation of each author. Only contributors who fulfill the ICMJE definition for authors should be listed on the manuscript title page. Other contributors may be listed in an Acknowledgments section. List all author names and academic degrees on a single line (do not use separate paragraphs for each author name), separating names by a semicolon (;). List author affiliations on a separate line immediately below the author names, indicating author/affiliation associations by the use of superscript numeral, eg: 
    Matthew Traxler, MD1; Jamie Borick, MD2
    1University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics, Department of Family Medicine, Iowa City, IA
    2Borinquen Medical Center, Department of Family Medicine, Miami, FL
  • Corresponding Author: Name, address, telephone number, fax number, and e-mail address of the corresponding author.
  • Submission Date: The date on which the manuscript was submitted.
  • Word Count for the main text (ie, excluding abstract, references, appendices, tables, figures, and legends).
  • Presentations: Include a statement about the name, date, and location of any professional meetings at which the content of the manuscript has been presented.
  • Conflict Disclosure: Disclosure of all conflicts of interest for any and all authors.
  • Key Words: Two to six key words, using standard Index Medicus terminology.
  • Abstract: (Original Articles, Brief Reports, Special Articles) All original article and brief report manuscripts require an abstract of no more than 250 words. The abstract should appear in the main document on a separate page following the title pages, and before the main text. It should be labeled ABSTRACT. The name(s) of the author(s) should not appear on the abstract. Original articles and brief reports should include an abstract in structured format, consisting of five sections, labeled Title, Background and Objectives, Methods, Results, and Conclusions. This structure is not required for special articles. Narrative essay submissions should not include an abstract. The abstract should carefully reflect the content of the article. Rather than stating what will be described in the paper, abstracts should actually summarize the main points of the paper.
  • Main Text (All Manuscripts): The body of the text (excluding title pages, abstract, references, tables, figures, and legends) should not exceed the word count limitations (described below), depending on the type of article

Manuscripts for Original Articles and Brief Reports should be well referenced and should avoid jargon, anecdotal reports, and personal opinions. These manuscripts should provide the reader with background on why the topic of the manuscript is important to the discipline of family medicine and/or medical education. Relevant literature should be reviewed and cited. The main argument or points of the paper should proceed logically and coherently, focusing on issues relevant to family medicine academicians, including researchers, educators, and/or clinicians. The manuscript should conclude with a discussion of recommendations and/or implications for family medicine academicians that are based on the issues raised in the main arguments/point of the paper. Original Article and Brief Report papers reporting research (both qualitative and quantitative investigations) or educational interventions should generally be divided into four sections, titled Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion.

  • Introduction: The introduction section of manuscripts reporting research or educational interventions should include a brief review of relevant literature to establish the need for the research project and/or the educational intervention being reported. The Introduction section should always address the following questions:
    • What issue is being addressed in the research? What is the research question?
    • Why is the issue important?
    • How will the discipline of family medicine and/or medical education benefit from having addressed the issue?
    • What have others done to address the issue?
    • If the research is evaluating a new curriculum or educational intervention, the introduction should comment on how the intervention is different than curricula or interventions that have been previously reported or that exist at other institutions. What were your study’s objectives and hypotheses?
  • Methods: For both qualitative and quantitative research, the methods should be described in sufficient detail to permit readers to fully understand how the research was performed. This should include a complete description of sampling methods, instruments used, methods of data collection and analysis, and steps taken to avoid or adjust for bias and confounding. Copies of actual survey instruments, evaluative tests, and curricula are generally not suitable for publication in the body of the manuscript but may be considered for summarization or reproduction in tables or appendices. In selected cases, the editorial staff may request a copy of such documents before a decision is made on a manuscript. All manuscripts reporting research that involves human subjects should include a statement indicating that the research has been reviewed and approved, or granted an exemption from formal review, by an appropriate human subjects protection committee (institutional review board)

    Manuscripts reporting new curricular or educational interventions should include a description of the intervention in sufficient detail to permit readers to understand how the activity might be reproduced at their own institutions. Research on educational interventions must include a detailed description of the techniques used for evaluating the intervention.
  • Results: Results should be presented in coherent fashion and should be specifically tied to the objectives and methods presented earlier in the manuscript. Results are often most effectively reported in tables, reserving the text for general descriptive statements and clarifications. In general, quantifiable results should be reported
    numerically, rather than with relative terms such as “most” or “many.” It is unnecessary to present all results collected in the research process. Rather, results pertinent to the a priori hypotheses and objectives are of most importance.
  • Discussion: The discussion section should:
    • Reiterate the principal findings of the research.
    • Explain why those findings are important.
    • Comment on methodological weaknesses of the study.
    • Provide an overall conclusion.
    • Discuss potential next steps for this area of research.

Authors should not draw conclusions or make inferences that are not specifically supported by the data reported in the study.

Original Article Manuscript Requirements:

  • Cover Letter
  • Title Page(s)
  • Abstract: 250 Words Maximum
  • Main Text: 3,000 Words
  • Maximum References: 75
  • Maximum tables/figures: 5 Maximum (Combined)

Brief Report Manuscript Requirements:

  • Cover Letter
  • Title Page(s)
  • Abstract: 250 Words Maximum
  • Main Text: 1,200 Words Maximum
  • References: 50 Maximum
  • Tables/figures: 3 Maximum (Combined)

Narrative Essay Report Manuscript Requirements:

  • Cover Letter
  • Title Page(s)
  • Abstract: None
  • Main Text: 1,000 Words Maximum
  • References: 5 or fewer
  • Tables & figures: None

Letters to the Editor Requirements:
Letters to the Editor should be addressed to the Editor, Family Medicine, and signed by all authors. They should also be double-spaced and include title pages listing the names and affiliations of each author. Letters to the editor must have a title. If the letter is responding to a previously-published article or issue in Family Medicine, please identify that article in the cover letter or clearly within the body of the letter. References should be kept to a maximum of 10, and must include a citation for papers referred to in the letter. A single table or figure will be considered if essential to the content. Letters to the editor are limited to a maximum of 500 words.

References should be listed on a separate page following the text. References should be double-spaced and numbered in the order in which they appear in the text. Family Medicine requires references to be in AMA style. The reference list should not include manuscripts in preparation, or manuscripts submitted for publication but not yet accepted.

Personal communications should be included parenthetically in the text, eg, “In a conversation with H.E. Marman, MD, (August 2007) . . .” or “Similar findings have been noted by Roberts and by H.E. Marman, MD (written communication, August 2007).”

Citation of internet websites should cite the specific webpage on which the pertinent material is located and the date the material was accessed.

Tables (All Manuscripts):

  • A table is meant to display information in columns and rows to support the main text but should not duplicate material presented in the text. Data included in tables should be pertinent to the study and meaningful.
  • Family Medicine follows the AMA Manual of Style, 11th Edition, for table formatting (section 4.1). All tables must be positioned after the reference list within the main body text, and must be created in Word format or Excel with editable, selectable text. Submitting a graphic image of a table is not acceptable. Tables spanning more than two pages of the Word document may be reformatted during production to appear as supplemental tables.
  • All tables should have a title beginning with the word “Table” and the table number in bold, followed by a brief, specific, and descriptive title written as a phrase, in the same capitalization style used in article titles (Title Case).
  • All tables included in a submission must be cited within the manuscript body. The main categories of information within the table should be presented as column headings, centered over each column. The left-most column contains the row headings which label the information for each row and should be flush left. The unit of measure should be in either the row or column heading, whichever is most appropriate. Data in the body of the table should be centered unless the cells contain a large amount of text, in which case they can be flush left. Table rows must be formatted as actual table rows, and not paragraph returns within a table row. Table columns must likewise be formatted as actual table columns, and not multiple tab spaces or character spaces giving the appearance of columns.
  • When reporting on racial and ethnic differences, be as specific as possible and define who is included in an “Other” category.

Figures and Illustrations (All Manuscripts):

  • Figures and Illustrations should include brief titles and should be concise illustrations but should not duplicate material presented in the text. All figures and illustrations should be accompanied by a legend. Figures must be positioned after the reference list in the main body text, along with any tables.
  • Legends should include sufficient explanatory information to permit readers to understand the illustration or figure without reference to the text.
  • Reference the figure within the text, ie, "Figure 1". Position each figure after the reference list within the main text, and number them consecutively in the order cited in the text. All figures should be formatted to read top to bottom on one 8.5” x 11” journal page with one-inch (1”) page margins. If a manuscript is accepted for publication, the author may need to provide new copies of illustrations and figures (including charts and graphs) in high-quality, camera-ready, reproducible form. The following are acceptable: high resolution digital images saved in a PDF, jpeg, TIFF, or eps format, with a minimum 300 dpi resolution; photographs; computer generated laser graphics; and professionally drawn illustrations. Digital images or black and white prints are preferred; however, color prints (but not slides) are also acceptable.

Appendices (All Manuscripts):

  • The use of appendices is discouraged. If the material in question is essential to understanding the article, it may be handled as a table or figure or be integrated into the text. Appendices will be permitted when they contain helpful information for the reader not covered in the manuscript, ie, additional reading materials, addresses and telephone numbers for national organizations, etc. Survey instruments provided by the author as an appendix are discouraged. If these are essential to the article, the author may provide a web-link accessible by readers. Tables spanning more than two pages may be converted to supplemental tables (downloadable PDF files) during production.

Manuscript Submission

All individuals listed as an author of a manuscript should have participated in conceptualizing the research or content of the manuscript, in writing or critically editing the manuscript, and in analysis of data presented in the manuscript. All authors should be thoroughly familiar with the substance of the final manuscript and be able to defend its conclusions. Individuals who made subsidiary contributions can be listed in the “Acknowledgments” section

  • Is this article based on research that was funded entirely or partially by an outside source? (Yes/No)
    If yes, please list the funding source(s)
  • Cover Letter: Original articles, brief reports, and narrative essays should all be accompanied by a cover letter addressed to the editor with the following information:
  • The type of article being submitted and any additional information about the manuscript that may be helpful to the editor.
  • A full statement to the editor about all submissions and previous reports that might be regarded as redundant publication of the same or very similar work. Any such work should be referred to specifically and referenced in the new paper.
  • A statement of financial or other relationships that might lead to a conflict of interest.
  • The name, address, telephone number and email address of the corresponding author, who is responsible for communicating with the other authors about revisions and final approval of the proofs.

All manuscripts must be submitted into the journal’s electronic submissions system at

Online submission of all manuscripts and letters is required. You will need the following:

  1. Manuscript category (Original Article, Brief Report, Letter to the Editor, Narrative Essay, Book Review).
  2. Complete information about all authors: email address (please verify that you have correct, up-to-date email addresses for all coauthors), salutation, first (given) and last (family) name, institution, department, country, state/province, city.
  3. Title of the Manuscript (must be consistent with title as listed on title page).
  4. Abstract (cut and paste here). The abstract must also be included in the manuscript files.
  5. Main file document including title page, abstract, main text, and AMA-formatted references: MS Word documents preferred.
  6. Keywords (from a search list).
  7. Cover letter (cut and paste and/or attach).

 Submission Checklist 

  • Format text as specified in instructions for authors ( submit manuscripts electronically:
  • Include an abstract in all Original Article and Brief Report manuscripts (after the Title Page and before the Main Text).
  • Include an IRB statement in all Original Article and Brief Report manuscripts (in the Methods section).
  • Include complete title pages for all manuscripts.
  • Include a cover letter for all manuscripts (except Letters to the Editor).
  • Carefully check your manuscript for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and meaning.
  • Number and format references in AMA style.
  • Number and label all tables and figures.
  • All tables and figures are positioned at the end of the main document, after the reference list.

All manuscripts must be submitted into the journal’s electronic submissions system at

For additional information, contact: Sarina Schrager, MD, MS,