Clinical Supervision and Allied Health practice: What are we doing? And does it make a difference?

Mr Kim Nguyen1, Dr Imelda Burgman1, Dr Anne Vertigan1

1Hunter New England Local Health District, New Lambton, Australia

Background: Clinical Supervision (CS) is an essential component of clinical governance, and a measure of clinical performance and effectiveness. The research investigated CS practice in Hunter New England Local Health District (HNE Health) for dietitians, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, podiatrists and speech pathologists; and explored the perceptions of these allied health professionals on the impact of CS on patient outcomes.

Methods: A mixed methods sequential design was employed. Phase One: A customised online survey including the Manchester Clinical Supervision Scale-26. The survey was partly completed by 201 participants, with 166 participants fully completing the survey. Phase Two: 15 semi-structured interviews were conducted and analysed using grounded theory, with iterative analysis of 88 free text survey responses, and survey responses on CS style and perceived patient outcomes.

Results: Phase One: CS arrangements included face to face, group and peer supervision, with most (86%) provided on site. Most CS sessions were an hour in length (54%) and occurred monthly (39%). CS was considered effective by the majority (71%) of respondents. Less than a third (27%) had received CS training. Phase Two: Two main themes emerged from the data. Conditions for effective CS had six subthemes: management support; networks & experts: flexibility & choice; dedicated time; supervisor & supervisee training: and supervisee input & collaboration. Effective CS for positive patient outcomes included effective CS subthemes of reflection, clinical reasoning, sharing of resources/information and development of skills/knowledge. Positive patient outcomes were identified by the subthemes of functional improvement, consistency of clinical care and meeting patient goals/desired outcomes.

Conclusions: CS was effective for the majority of participants, and was demonstrated to lead to positive patient outcomes of functional improvement, consistency of clinical care and facilitation of patient health care goals. This is the first known research determining a direct link between CS and patient outcomes.


Since 2014, Kim has been the Executive Director Workforce & Executive Director Allied Health, for the Hunter New England Local Health District, NSW.  In 2012, he became President of the NSW Occupational Therapy Council, Health Professional Council Authority. This was a statutory appointment by Governor of NSW.  Kim is a Conjoint Senior Lecturer, School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medicine, University of Newcastle. He is a Fellow, Australia Institute of Management, a Fellow, Royal Society for Public Health, and an Associate Fellow, Australasian College of Health Service Management. Kim has a Bachelor of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy), a Graduate Diploma in Public Health, and a Graduate Diploma of Human Resource Management.

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