Building allied health research capacity at a regional Australian hospital: a follow up study.

Dr Tilley Pain1,2, Dr Malindu Fernando1,2,3, Mrs  Michelle Petersen1

1Queensland Health, Townsville, Australia, 2James Cook University, Townsville, Australia, 3Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove, Australia


Aim: This study determined if research experience increased among allied health professionals (AHPs) at a regional tertiary hospital following a research capacity building initiative.

Method: A cross sectional electronic survey was used to collect data from AHPs on their research experience, research support needs, enablers and barriers to research and their perceptions regarding benefits of research. A baseline survey was conducted in 2011 which was compared to a follow up survey in 2015. Comparison of variables between the two surveys used Chi squared tests.

Results: The response rate for the 2011 survey was 43% (n=248) while the 2015 survey achieved a 37% response rate (n=234). There was a significant increase in AHP research experience as well as need for research support between the 2011 and 2015 surveys in many (but not all) activities on the research continuum. Time availability was the greatest barrier and the perceived benefit of research was to improve clinical care.

Significance of findings to allied health: This study demonstrated AHPs have increased research experience but have insufficient time to perform it. Despite the increase in experience, the level of research activity has not reached the threshold of traditional measures of research output: publications; and successful grants. The introduction of researcher-clinician career pathways may overcome barriers to research.

Allied professionals work in primary, acute and community care. Their research profile is unlikely to increase without significant input of time or resources to allow them to conduct research.


Dr Tilley Pain is a Principal Research Fellow at Townsville Hospital and Health Service. Her role is to build research capacity among allied health professionals and to conduct relevant research. Her research interests include building research capacity, healthy aging, health economics.