Building research capacity within physiotherapy

Dr Kathy Stiller1, Ms Naomi Haensel1

1Central Adelaide Local Health Network, Adelaide, Australia

Aim: Building research capacity within a busy clinical allied health department is important but often limited by time, resources and expertise. In 1995, a role was created in our Physiotherapy Department whereby an individual with an interest and expertise in clinical research was identified and a proportion of their workload quarantined to fulfil a research co-ordination role, with the aim of fostering research and building research capacity. This study reports the achievements associated with this initiative over a 20 year period.

Method: A retrospective descriptive review was undertaken.

Results: Since the introduction of a designated research co-ordinator in 1995, there have been 54 major publications and 91 presentations at a national/international conferences. Successes have included the high number of publications and presentations, the broad range of clinical areas where research has been undertaken, the clinical relevance of the research, the large number of staff involved, collaboration with other hospital departments/universities and staff involvement in post-graduate degrees. Difficulties have included slow recruitment rates to clinical trials, resource issues and lack of career structure for those interested in pursuing research as a career option.

Significance of the findings to allied health: Identifying a clinician with an interest and expertise in clinical research and quarantining time to enable them to fulfil a broader research co-ordinating role was successful at fostering research and building research capacity within a clinical allied health department. These findings will be of interest to other allied health clinical departments who might consider commencing a similar initiative