Strategic planning for allied health research: Exploring the process

Dr Abby Foster1,2, Dr Debra Mitchell1

1Monash Health, Melbourne, Australia, 2La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia

Background: A strategic approach to research in allied health is essential to culture and capacity building. Developing a coordinated and multidisciplinary approach is considered a critical success factor for allied health research. While strategic planning for allied health research is used in several Australian health networks, the strategic planning process often lacks transparency.

Aim: To describe the process of developing an organisation-wide strategic plan to build allied health research culture and capability within a metropolitan health network.

Method: A multiphase process was used to design the allied health research strategic plan, based on the Strategic planning guidelines for Victorian health services. Analysis of the internal and external environment was undertaken, followed by an evaluation of the strategic position. Workshops were held focusing on the strategic intent (vision), guiding principles (values) and research focus areas that form the foundation of the strategic plan. A plan was drafted, after which consultations were undertaken with stakeholders, including allied health service users. Amendments were incorporated, then the strategic plan was finalised. A communications plan supported dissemination.

Results: Including and explicitly valuing the perspective of diverse stakeholders in the process supported broad engagement.  Sharing the strategic planning process allows for it to be replicated and/or contextually adapted in other healthcare settings.

Conclusion: A clear, collaborative strategic plan with shared vision and values provides an opportunity to move towards a coordinated and strategic approach to research culture and capability building. Follow up will include evaluation of the impact of the plan.


Dr Abby Foster is the Allied Health Research Advisor at Monash Health. Her role is to provide tailored research support, lead projects designed to facilitate research culture and capability, and provide strategic direction for allied health research. A speech pathologist by training, she has expertise in qualitative research methods and is committed to valuing and amplifying the voices of people with communication disability through research

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