Increasing research within a health service: A five year follow-up research capacity study

Dr Tilley Pain1,2, Mrs Michelle Petersen1, Mr  Malindu Fernando1,2, Ms  Karen Phillips1

1Townsville Hospital And Health Service, Townsville, Australia, 2James Cook Universtiy, Townsville, Australia


Aim: Research underpins advances in modern health care.  Building research capacity therefore, should be an essential component of health service operations. There has been an Allied Health (AH) research capacity initiative at The Townsville Hospital and Health Service since 2010. A baseline survey was conducted in 2011 demonstrating high levels of research interest but little experience amongst the AH staff. This study is a follow-up survey to measure subsequent change.


Method: Both surveys were distributed via email with a link to Survey Monkey. There were questions about demographics, research experience and need for support as well as perception of research. The unmatched data was analysed with SPSS and all comparisons of categorical data used chi square tests.


Results: Baseline survey response rate was 48% and follow up survey was 41%. Significant increases in research experience were seen in generating research ideas (p=0.18); developing questions (p=0.028); writing proposals (p=0.005); applying for grants (p=0.027); writing ethics applications (0.014); quantitative research methods (p=0.004); analysing data (p=0.006) and publishing (p=0.004). The increase in experience was supported by a decrease in the need for support for the same activities. AH staff considered the benefit of research was to improve clinical care of patients.


Significance: These results demonstrate research capacity building of allied health professionals is successful. The high levels of interest and the benefit of improving care suggests further capacity building would continue to increase research activity. To demonstrate the value of allied health to improving the health status of our communities, allied health must participate in research.