Measuring Allied Health value through research: Evidence brief

Dr Tilley Pain1

1Townsville Hospital And Health Service, Townsville, Australia, 2James Cook University, Townsville, Australia

Allied health research (AHR) is close to clinical practice. However, the metrics for success in AHR is the same as other research modalities i.e. track record of papers and citations. While these metrics are important for rigour in the field, they do not involve the most important aspect of AHR – practice change.

The Townsville Hospital and Health Service (THHS) is building research capacity with the aim of improving clinical practice. Therefore, an instrument to measure the impact of research on clinical practice was sought by the Research Fellow employed in the role. Our solution was to imitate the Deeble Institute’s Health Policy Evidence Brief – a one page document to help policy makers quickly find what evidence exists in a topic area, describe how compelling it is and the implication for policy. THHS named the document Health Practice Evidence Brief. The purpose of our Evidence Brief is to provide a one page summary for THHS decision makers describing the clinical problem or gap, the research evidence to solve the problem or fill the gap and the resulting practice change.

Six Health Practice Evidence Briefs have been developed to date. They document a wide variety of practice change including: removal of a week’s delay between simulation and treatment for prostate cancer patients; all patients on fluid only diets referred to a dietitian if length of stay is 3 days or more; and patients continue wearing antibiotic infusion pumps during concurrent hyperbaric treatment.


Tilley is the research fellow at the Townsville Hospital and Health Service for all allied health and health practitioner staff. Her role is to build research capacity, conduct her own research and mentor/supervise allied health conducting research or higher degrees. Tilley’s background was as a medical laboratory scientist and was awarded a PhD in cardiac physiology. She has worked in the US and UK and in various fields including primary care, remote health, and clinical and bench research. The wide experience has proved useful in her current role of supporting 14 different allied health professions conduct research at Townsville HHS.

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