When do allied health professionals lose confidence to perform evidence-based practice activities? A cross-sectional study.

Dr Marlena Klaic1,2, Associate Professor Fiona McDermott2, Professor Terry Haines2

1Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parkville, Australia, 2Monash University, Frankston, Australia


Australian allied health professional groups typically have accreditation or registration requirements which mandate training in EBP skills within undergraduate courses. It is likely that recent Australian graduates from the allied health professions are equipped to undertake a range of EBP activities. However, published research continues to find that clinicians report a lack of skills as a significant barrier to EBP, despite the commitment of education providers and registration bodies to facilitate this.


To examine the relationship between allied health professionals’ confidence to perform a range of EBP activities and the number of years worked clinically and highest level of qualification received.


Analytical cross-sectional survey. Allied health professionals from two major metropolitan hospitals in Australia were eligible to participate in the study. Attitudes, beliefs, skills, knowledge and behaviour related to EBP were measured using a previously validated instrument. Data analysis included box plot analysis and multivariable regression with adjustment for the highest level of qualification received.


A total of 288 (n=288) surveys were completed, representing a 58% response rate. Allied health professionals begin to lose confidence related to EBP activities within the first five years of clinical practice, particularly for those activities involving critical analysis of published studies. Respondents with post-graduate qualifications were more likely to report greater confidence with EBP activities, suggesting that higher level qualifications protect against the effect of degradation of EBP skills and confidence over time.


Recently graduated allied health professionals are typically equipped with the knowledge and skills to confidently participate in EBP activities. However, these skills degrade quickly. If allied health professionals are to provide a practice that is evidence based, there must be investment in strategies which ensure maintenance of EBP skills, confidence and behaviours. Further research determining the timing, frequency and format of these strategies is important.


Dr Marlena Klaic is the DHHS appointed Allied Health Research & Translation Leader at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. She has 20 years’ experience working clinically in neurological rehabilitation, research and project management. Marlena completed her PhD on “Enhancing the uptake of evidence-based practice with allied health professionals: A quasi-experimental study”.

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