Professional networks for allied health research and practice change: Who do clinicians talk to and why?

Dr Danielle Hitch1, Dr Jo Pinson2,4, Dr  David  Snowdon4, Ms Emma Macdonald3, Dr.  Marnie  Graco5, Dr. Olivia King6,13, Dr.  Rosalie  Boyce6,13, Dr.  Renee Clapham7, Dr.  Amy Dennett8, Dr.  Owen  Howlett9, Dr.  Marlena Klaic10, Ms.  Rita  Kinsella11, Dr.  Karen  Borschmann11, Prof. Michal Schneider12

1Western Health, Sunshine, Australia, 2Monash Health, Clayton, Australia, 3Goulburn Valley Health, Shepparton, Australia, 4Peninsula Health, Frankston, Australia, 5Alfred Health, Prahran, Australia, 6Barwon Health, Geelong, Australia, 7Ballarat Health, Ballarat, Australia, 8Eastern Health, Box Hill, Australia, 9Bendigo Health, Bendigo , Australia, 10Melbourne Health, Parkville, Australia, 11St. Vincents Hospital, Fitzroy, Australia, 12Department of Health and Human Services, Melbourne, Australia, 13South West Health Care, Warrnambool, Australia

The allied health research context is undergoing rapid transformation, and its relationship to practice change is now recognised as crucial for academics and clinicians alike.  This study aimed to describe the professional networks of allied health clinicians for research and practice change within the Victorian healthcare system. Using mixed methods, data were collected from 11 healthcare services via survey. Quantitative data was analysed descriptively, while qualitative data was evaluated using content analysis. A total of 298 responses from 12 science and therapy disciplines were received. Most participants were female (83.9%), and the mean age was 36.9 (SD 12.8).  Around two thirds (68.6%) worked in metropolitan areas, and most (62.5%) were employed in Grade 2 or 3 positions. Clinicians most frequently self-identified as research consumers (67.2%), practice change consumers (45.2%) or active participants in practice change (42.8%). They were least likely to self-identify as translators of research (13.4%) or practice change (10.7%). Significant differences between grades in the percentage of clinicians identifying as consumers (practice change p=0.001), active participants (research p=0.020), leaders (research and practice change p<0.001), generators (research and practice change p<0.001) or translators (research and practice change p<0.001) were identified. The majority of professional contacts were from the same discipline (59.8%) or health service (67.6%). Only 16.6% of contacts were consulted about both research and practice change, suggesting distinctive professional networks for each domain. A greater understanding of allied health networks for research and practice change will support improved efficiency and effectiveness for workforce capacity building into the future.


Dr. Danielle Hitch is the Allied Health Research and Translation Lead at Western Health. Her areas of interest and expertise include implementation science, mental health and social justice.

Dr. Jo-Anne Pinson is the Research Coordinator in Medical Imaging at Monash Health and Peninsula Health. Her areas of interest and expertise include developing effective and efficient research methods applicable to medical imaging, and drug discovery and development (with a particular focus on patient outcomes).

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