Frameworks for Embedding a Research Culture in Allied Health Practice

Dr Susan Slade1, Ms Kathleen Philip2, Prof Meg Morris1,3

1La Trobe University, Bundoora, Australia, 2Department of Health and Human Services, Melbourne, Australia, 3Healthscope Northeastern  Rehabilitation Centre, Ivanhoe, Australia


Embedding a culture of research within public and private health systems remains challenging. A rapid review was conducted to evaluate frameworks designed to create and embed research into routine allied health practice.

Full text English-language, peer-reviewed publications or Government reports were included. Eight electronic databases and four government websites were searched. Two independent researchers conducted all review stages and used content and thematic data analysis.

Sixteen frameworks papers were included. Content analysis identified 44 system and regulatory level items that informed research frameworks, 125 healthcare organisation items and 76 individual clinician items. Thematic analysis identified four major themes: (1) sustainable change requires allied health research policies, regulation and organizational structures; (2) research literacy of policy makers and managers are essential; (3) a whole-of-organisation approach facilitates a research culture; and (4) individual clinician attributes, such as motivation and research skills, are essential. Theoretical frameworks were identified that informed processes to embed a culture of allied health research into healthcare services. Research-led and evidence-informed allied health practice enables optimisation of workforce capability and high quality care.

Significance of the findings to allied health:
Sustainable change requires allied health research policies, regulation and organizational structures that support evidence-based practice. Research advocacy and literacy of managers are key to successful implementation. Organisational factors that facilitate a research culture include dedicated research positions, professional education, infrastructure and university partnerships. “Research ready” graduates and clinicians are essential to embedding research into practice.


Dr Susan Slade is a La Trobe University postdoctoral research fellow, provisional fellow of the Australian College of Physiotherapy and musculoskeletal physiotherapist. Dr Slade has over 40 peer-reviewed publications and has presented at 20 international conferences. She has strong collaborative networks including the University of Southern Denmark and Warwick University and is member of the Cochrane back and neck and qualitative and implementation review groups. Her research expertise is in systematic reviews, qualitative research and exercise prescription. Her research interests are chronic health conditions, translation and implementation into clinical practice, reporting guidelines and method quality assessment.