Is there a link between clinician reported time spent on research and research success?

Dr Angela T Chang1, Dr Adrienne Young1, Dr Anna Farrell1, 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: A lack of time to undertake research is a commonly reported barrier for allied health clinicians. The aim of this study was to investigate current research outputs and self-reported time spent on research and evaluation activity, and the relationship between these measures.

Methods: A prospective survey of self-reported time spent on research and evaluation activities and retrospective audit of research output across nine allied health teams was undertaken. Surveys were repeated monthly over three months (Jan to March 2018) and an average calculated for analysis.  Average hours per team was calculated as percentage of funded full time equivalent (FTE) hours. Peer-reviewed publications, research funding and number of research or evaluation projects from July 2017 to June 2018 were extracted from departmental records and average per FTE calculated. Kendell Correlations compared time and output measures per FTE between teams.

Results: Completed surveys were received from 490 respondents (average response rate 43.2%). On average 37.5% of respondents (range 0 to 67.5% across teams) reported spending time on research or evaluation during work time. The total time reported was 1383.2 hours per month, average 2.69% of FTE (range 0% to 6.96% of FTE). A total of 68 publications were authored, average 0.22/FTE (range 0 to 0.73/FTE). Over $809K in external research funding was received, average $2.6k/FTE (range $0 to $11.5k/FTE) and 221 research or evaluation projects undertaken in the period, average 0.72/FTE (range 0 to 2.32/FTE). Proportion of team members reporting time on research was positively correlated with number of research or evaluation projects (rT=0.7778, p=0.0293), no other significant correlations were found.

Conclusion: There was variation in research time and outputs across allied health teams. Increased proportion of team members spending time on research was associated with higher number of research projects being undertaken, but this was not associated with increased publications or grant success.


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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