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Assessment of Health Research Capacity in Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD): A Study on Medical, Nursing and Allied Health Professionals

Authors Lee SA, Byth K, Gifford JA, Balasubramanian M, Fozzard CA, Skapetis T, Flood VM

Received 12 July 2019

Accepted for publication 10 December 2019

Published 11 February 2020 Volume 2020:13 Pages 153—163


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Sharon A Lee,1,2 Karen Byth,1,2 Janelle A Gifford,2– 5 Madhan Balasubramanian,1,2,6,6 Carolyn A Fozzard,1 Tony Skapetis,6,7 Victoria M Flood1– 3

1Western Sydney Local Health District, Research and Education Network, Westmead, NSW 2145, Australia; 2Faculty of Medicine and Health, Sydney School of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2141, Australia; 3Charles Perkins Centre, The University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW 2006, Australia; 4South Western Sydney Local Health District, Liverpool, NSW 2170, Australia; 5Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research, Liverpool, NSW 2170, Australia; 6Faculty of Medicine and Health, Sydney Dental School, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2005, Australia; 7Division of Oral Health, Western Sydney Local Health District, Westmead, NSW 2145, Australia

Correspondence: Victoria M Flood
Research & Education Network, Westmead Hospital, Corner Hawkesbury & Darcy Road, Westmead, NSW 2145, Australia
Tel +612 8890 9721
Fax +612 8890 8627
Email [email protected]

Background: Research should inform clinical decision-making and evidence-based practice for all health professionals. To build research capacity among all health professionals, there is a need to measure the levels of research capacity and identify the gaps and needs of health-care professionals. The aim of the study was to better understand the research culture and capacity of health professionals (medical, nursing and allied health) in Western Sydney Local Health District, Sydney, Australia.
Methods: A research capacity and culture tool (RCCT) survey was electronically distributed to all health staff in WSLHD. Data were collected between November 2016 and January 2017. Participants were surveyed through a 10-point Likert scale that measured research capacity at the individual, team and organisational levels.
Results: A total of 393 health staff responded to the study: allied health practitioners (46.3%), nursing staff (35.4%) and medical practitioners (18.3%). Females made 76% of the sample, and 54% were aged between 35 and 54 years. Individual responses were different across professions, with an average median score for medical 6.3 (95% CI 5.8– 6.9), allied health 5.3 (95% CI 4.9– 5.7) and nursing 4.5 (95% CI 4.1– 5.0) after adjustment for age and gender. Team responses for medical staff (average median score 5.9 95% CI 5.3– 6.4) were higher than allied health (4.1 95% CI 3.7– 4.6) and nursing (4.3 95% CI 3.8– 4.8), after adjusting for age and gender. However, there were no differences between the three professions for the organisational responses. Allied health and nursing staff were less confident in obtaining research funding, submitting ethics applications, writing for publication and mentoring colleagues about research.
Conclusion: This study demonstrates the individual research capacity for medical, allied health and nursing professionals are different. Research capacity building needs to be individually tailored to the specific needs of each profession. This research will inform future capacity building activities and training for health professionals in a large public health organisation of Sydney, Australia.

Keywords: research capacity, allied health, nursing

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