Research Capacity- what is it, why is it important, and how is it measured? A meta-analysis of research on the Research Capacity and Culture Tool

Ms Annie Chapman1,2, Professor Andrew Baillie1,2, Dr  Joanna Kidd2,3, Prof Jenny Alison1,2, A/Prof Sarah Dennis2,3

1Sydney Local Health District, Sydney, Australia, 2Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Sydney, Lidcombe, Australia, 3South Western Sydney Local Health District, Liverpool, Australia

Research Capacity is the ability to conduct research or to use research in practice.  Clinician research capacity is important for providing the best care and achieving the best outcomes for patients.  Research capacity has been commonly assessed using the Research Capacity and Culture Tool (RCCT), a 55 item self-report questionnaire with three subscales: individual, team and organization[1]. The aim of the study was a systematic review and meta-analysis of research on the RCCT to examine: a) whether the measurement properties of the RCCT can be generalised across different samples; b) whether responses to the RCCT are different across professions and contexts, and what might predict higher or lower research capacity; and, c) does the literature indicate how it could be further developed?

A comprehensive search strategy revealed 17 publications containing information about RCCT responses for 40 separate samples.  Search results were reviewed two authors and eligible papers were retrieved.  Information was coded separately by two authors and any discrepancies were agreed in consultation with a third author.  The homogeneity of estimates across studies was calculated and where there was significant heterogeneity random effects methods were used.

No studies reported factor-analyses to verify the three subscale structure.  Four estimates of coefficient alpha (range of 0.935 to 0.98) were reported which was too few to statistically pool.  The heterogeneity of mean scores from the 40 samples was examined for each subscale and meta-regression was conducted with profession, percent with higher research degrees, teaching hospital and other predictors.  Reports of the range of responses to each item were examined for floor and ceiling effects.

The RCCT showed high internal consistency. There were variations in reporting of RCCT responses suggesting some uncertainty about what it measures.  Research capacity is crucial to maximise patient care and patient outcomes and the RCCT is the best available measure.

References

  1. Holden L, Pager S, Golenko X, Ware RS. Validation of the research capacity and culture (RCC) tool: Measuring RCC at individual, team and organisation levels. Australian Journal of Primary Health. 2012;18(1):62. doi:10.1071/PY10081

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