Can the theory of planned behaviour explain Allied Health professionals’ likelihood to engage in EBP? A focus group study

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

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

Published research has found that allied health professionals generally agree with the concept of evidence based practice (EBP), and feel that it can improve patient care and outcomes. However, implementation of research findings into clinical practice remains inconsistent with numerous barriers identified as impacting individual clinicians’ ability and capacity to be evidence-based in their practice. Interventions aimed at improving the uptake of evidence-based practice with allied health professionals have been largely unsuccessful. Implementation science research suggests that a theory driven approach is critical when attempting to modify behaviour of healthcare professionals.

To explain allied health professionals’ EBP behaviours utilising the theory of planned behaviour.

Focus groups.

Ten focus groups with a total of 49 participants were conducted and consisted of discipline specific and multidisciplinary teams. Participants were found to have positive attitudinal beliefs but low normative beliefs, particularly in relation to the perception that the workplace did not value engagement in evidence-based practice activities, such as presenting results from research activities at conferences. The organisational context was a strong moderator of perceived behavioural control, more so than internal variables such as skills. An additional theme was identified and related to the sense of dissonance participants experienced due to their awareness of the knowledge-behaviour gap.

This study demonstrated that the theory of planned behaviour is a useful framework for explaining allied health professionals’ experience of EBP. The results revealed that the organisational context has a strong moderating influence on perceived behavioural control, more so than variables internal to the participant such as skills and knowledge. This finding suggests that interventions aimed at enhancing the uptake of EBP with allied health professionals should target the organisational context along with skills and knowledge.


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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