Developing a team-based, tailored approach to building research capacity in allied health

Dr Angela T Chang1, Dr Adrienne Young1, Dr Farrell Anna1, Prof Jennifer Strong1, Dr Gai  Harrison1, A/Prof Jennifer Paratz1, Mr Peter Buttrum1, Ms Michelle Cottrell1, Dr Peter Window1, Dr Merrilyn Banks1, Dr Susan de Jersey1

1Royal Brisbane And Women’s Hospital, Herston, Australia

Background: Different factors have been posited to influence research capacity of allied health teams. This study 1) investigated levels of research capacity and reported barriers and motivators of allied health teams, and 2) developed tailored strategies to better support and facilitate staff engagement.

Methods: A prospective survey of research capacity and culture (1) of allied health professionals across nine teams was undertaken. Team-level results were used to identify areas of low success or skill within teams.  Eighty-nine strategies were subsequently identified and mapped to each team aspect of the tool (1).  Representatives were engaged to review the results and identify potential strategies to address areas of low ratings of “success or skill”  within their own team.

Results: A total of 165 responses were received from allied health professionals (response rate 43%). Overall team-level score was 5.98 / 10, (range from 2.59 to 7.88). Across allied health, the team-level items varied from 3.44 (has software available to support research activities) to 7.53 (has identified experts accessible for research advice). The most common barriers to undertaking research were lack of time (72% overall, ranging 61% to 100% across teams) and other work roles taking priority (67% overall, ranging from 39% to 100% across teams).   All nine teams have now identified a range of strategies for implementation within their teams in the next 18-month period, with support from managers  and research support roles (pre-existing in two teams ). Common strategies include new or additional research support roles (in three teams ) and support from two general allied health research support positions.

Conclusion: Despite high overall team-level research capacity and culture, there was variation across survey items and disciplines.  Reassessment is needed to evaluate the impact of these tailored strategies on research culture, activity and outputs.

Reference: (1) Holden et al, Aust J Prim Health. 2012;18(1):62-7


Angela completed her PhD studies in 2005 and has worked in a range of settings including as an academic at the University of Queensland, Research and Development Consulting and health workforce policy roles in federal and state health departments.  She is currently in a research capacity building role and provides support and mentoring to allied health clinicians based at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

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