Is clinical supervision effective for all the allied health professions? Findings from a Queensland mixed methods study suggest significant profession-specific differences

Dr Christine Saxby1,2, Professor Jill Wilson2, Associate Professor Peter  Newcombe2

1Community And Oral Health Directorate, Brighton, Australia, 2Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia

Current approaches to the implementation of clinical supervision in Australia recommend applying a standardised model across all health disciplines, including the different allied health professions (Fitzpatrick et al., 2012). Despite the uptake of this practice, there is minimal evidence comparing the experiences of allied health professionals utilising a common supervision model, nor whether the allied health professionals differ in their perceptions of supervision outcomes (Dawson et al., 2012). This mixed methods study investigated whether there were any profession-specific differences in supervision effectiveness of an implemented clinical supervision model applied across several community-based allied health professions (n=108).

The study was conducted adopting an explanatory sequential design (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011), whereby a quantitative study was followed by a qualitative study. Data was collected at 8 and 12 months post-implementation of structured clinical supervision. Responses were gathered using the revised Manchester Clinical Supervision Scale, MCSS-26 (Winstanley & White, 2011) and focus group discussions. Data was separately analysed and interpreted, and then integrated to respond to the study’s research question. Participants included eight different allied health professional groups with the professions of social work, occupational therapy and physiotherapy together comprising over 70% of all respondents.

Overall, the group’s mean score (M=73.23, SD=14.70) for supervision effectiveness was not significantly different to the published MCSS-26 efficacy threshold score of 73, t <1 (Winstanley & White, 2011). Also, the total group’s overall mean score did not differ from the benchmarked norms for allied health (M=74.4, SD=11.00), t <1 (Winstanley & White, 2011). However, both Study 1 and Study 2 findings revealed significant profession-specific differences in supervision effectiveness. Most notably, physiotherapy as a group (M=60.63, SD=16.07), differed significantly from the MCSS-26 published norm for allied health, t (7) =   -2.48, p=.042). Whilst focus group findings showed many similarities across the professions regarding supervision barriers and enhancers, responses also highlighted important differences, including perceived supervisor confidence in providing professional support. These findings suggest that clinical supervision implementation design considers the needs of all allied health professional groups in the application of a common supervision model. The presentation will detail the research findings, implications and recommendations for practice.


Christine is an Allied Health Educator within the Community and Oral Health Education Team. Prior to this role, Christine worked as a senior social worker across several practice domains. In 2016, Christine completed a PhD at the University of Queensland. Her area of research was clinical supervision effectiveness, burnout and intent to leave in allied health staff. Christine has several supervision publications and has been an invited journal and book reviewer. Christine has an adjunct lecturer title with the University of Queensland, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work. Christine’s current interest is in improving health outcomes through the provision of inter-professional education for health care workers.

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