Translating evidence into practice: a longitudinal qualitative exploration of allied health decision making

Dr Jenni White1, Ms Kellie Grant1, EviTAH Committte2, Prof Terry  Haines1

1Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, 2Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, Melbourne, Australia


Allied health professionals are encouraged to be research and policy literate in order to apply best practice into clinical practice and optimise patient outcomes. Evidence-based practice is underpinned by research evidence and guided by principles of safety, effectiveness, patient-centeredness, timeliness, efficiency, and equity. However rapidly accumulating evidence and finite resources mean that allied health managers must make explicit or implicit choices about how to prioritise interventions, funds and staff time.


This longitudinal qualitative study was embedded in a larger three-group parallel cluster randomised controlled trial exploring the success of research implementation strategies for promoting evidence-based policy and management decisions in healthcare. Allied health managers from Australian and New Zealand hospitals were randomised to receive either (1) an evidence-based policy recommendation document to guide weekend allied health resource allocation decisions, (2) the same policy recommendation document with support from a knowledge broker to help implement weekend allied health policy recommendations, or (3) a usual practice control group. Knowledge broker forums provided the opportunity to explore beliefs, current practices, and decision making of allied health managers over time. Up to 3 knowledge broker forums (each with a minimum of 6 participants) were held with 15 health services at different intervals. Inductive thematic analysis of forums (recorded and transcribed with participant consent) involved constant comparison, concurrent data collection and analysis.


Key emergent themes suggest that: (1) trust in evidence, (2) insufficiency of evidence, (3) maintaining the status quo and (4) barriers to change informed the prioritisation of decision-making and resource allocation in allied health.


This research highlights the need to continue fostering and supporting evidence based decision-making in allied health policy and practice. The findings showed that there is an appetite for evidence-based practice in allied health. In spite of this, practice change remains difficult and challenging. Findings add to current knowledge about barriers to change, implementation of guideline recommendations and how these can modified to address participant concerns.Despite growing resources and frameworks for implementing evidence, we suggest that future research is required to ensure that resources and effort spent trying to change practices in allied health are targeted.


Jennifer is an Clinical experience as an occupational therapist with over 15 years experience as researcher across a range of health care settings including acute, post-acute, and community. Her research interest is in health outcomes and the delivery of evidence based and holistic person-centered care that is in line with patients’ own values and needs. •   She has a national and international research profile with over over 30 papers published and has presented widely.

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2007, Hobart (7th NAHC)

2009, Canberra (8th NAHC)

2012, Canberra (9th NAHC)

2013, Brisbane (10th NAHC)

2015, Melbourne (11th NAHC)

2017, Sydney (12th NAHC)

2019, Brisbane (13th NAHC)

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