An evaluation of research capacity and culture in a sample of Western Australian allied health professionals

Ms Janine Matus1, Ms Jessica E. Tearne2, Ms Kellie Blyth3, Dr Vinicius Cavalheri3,4

1Department of Occupational Therapy, Fiona Stanley Fremantle Hospital Group, Perth, Australia, 2Department of Clinical Psychology, Fiona Stanley Hospital, Perth, Australia, 3Allied Health, South Metropolitan Health Service, Health Department of Western Australia, Perth, Australia, 4Curtin School of Allied Health, Curtin University, Perth, Australia

Research engagement is reported to have multiple benefits for clients, health professionals and organisations. These include increased availability and translation of research evidence to influence policy and practice, increased staff engagement, job satisfaction and retention. Numerous strategies to increase allied health research engagement have been described in the literature; however, allied health research participation and leadership in hospital and health services across Australia remains limited. This study used the Research Capacity and Culture (RCC) tool to measure factors relating to research capacity and culture at the level of individuals, teams and the organisation, as well as perceived barriers and motivators. Allied health professionals working within one tertiary health service in Western Australia were invited to participate. Data from 320 respondents (37% response rate) were available for analysis. Overall, respondents considered their organisation and professional groups to be moderately successful in supporting and valuing research. At an individual level, strengths included ‘finding and critically reviewing literature’ and ‘integrating research findings into practice’. Weaknesses included ‘securing research funding’, and ‘writing ethics applications and manuscripts’. Commonly reported barriers related to a lack of time, funding, and skills, while motivators included skill development, addressing gaps in clinical practice, increased job satisfaction and opportunities for career advancement. It is recommended that ongoing targeted investment of support and resources is required at the level of individuals, teams and organisations to mitigate barriers and strengthen existing motivators for allied health research engagement and build on current skill levels.


Janine Matus is a Senior Occupational Therapist currently working in the South Metropolitan Health Service (SMHS) in Perth, Western Australia. Janine has previous experience in evaluating allied health research capacity and culture in tertiary health services and developing and implementing an evidence-informed framework of strategies to build research engagement.

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