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Key factors influencing allied health research capacity in a large Australian metropolitan health district

Authors Alison JA, Zafiropoulos B, Heard R

Received 17 May 2017

Accepted for publication 5 July 2017

Published 9 August 2017 Volume 2017:10 Pages 277—291


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Jennifer A Alison,1,2 Bill Zafiropoulos,1,2 Robert Heard3

1Faculty of Health Sciences Discipline of Physiotherapy, University of Sydney, 2Allied Health Professorial Unit, Sydney Local Health District, 3Faculty of Health Sciences, Discipline of Behavioral and Social Sciences in Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Objective: The aim of this study was to identify key factors affecting research capacity and engagement of allied health professionals working in a large metropolitan health service. Identifying such factors will assist in determining strategies for building research capacity in allied health.
Materials and methods: A total of 276 allied health professionals working within the Sydney Local Health District (SLHD) completed the Research Capacity in Context Tool (RCCT) that measures research capacity and culture across three domains: organization, team, and individual. An exploratory factor analysis was undertaken to identify common themes within each of these domains. Correlations were performed between demographic variables and the identified factors to determine possible relationships.
Results: Research capacity and culture success/skill levels were reported to be higher within the organization and team domains compared to the individual domain (median [interquartile range, IQR] 6 [5–8], 6 [5–8], 5 [3–7], respectively; Friedman χ2(2)=42.04, p<0.001). Exploratory factor analyses were performed to identify factors that were perceived by allied health respondents to affect research capacity. Factors identified within the organization domain were infrastructure for research (eg, funds and equipment) and research culture (eg, senior manager’s support for research); within the team domain the factors were research orientation (eg, dissemination of results at research seminars) and research support (eg, providing staff research training). Within the individual domain, only one factor was identified which was the research skill of the individual (eg, literature evaluation, submitting ethics applications and data analysis, and writing for publication).
Conclusion: The reported skill/success levels in research were lower for the individual domain compared to the organization or team domains. Key factors were identified in each domain that impacted on allied health research capacity. As these factors were different in each domain, various strategies may be required at the level of the organization, team, and individual to support and build allied health research capacity.

Keywords: research culture, organization, team, individual

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