Factors influencing current Evidence-Based Practice in Allied Health and Community Services

Dr Tamara Tse1,2, Dr Robyn O’Halloran1,2, Ms Sophie Heywood2, Dr Lyndal Hickey1, Ms Natalie Simmance1, Dr Stephan Maloney3

1St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, Fitzroy, Australia, 2School of Allied Health, College of Science, Health and Engineering, La Trobe University, Bundoora , Australia, 3School of Primary and Allied Health Care, Faculty Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University, Frankston, Australia

Abstract: 

Aim: to map the factors influencing current Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) across Allied Health and Community Services (AH&CS) in a tertiary hospital to inform the development of a hospital AH&CS EBP plan.

Method: a mixed methods study was conducted within and across AH&CS.  All AH&CS clinicians and managers were invited to participate in a survey using visual analogue scales (0=not at all, 10=completely) and free text responses about the influence of EBP components: research evidence, clinical expertise, patient values, and organisational expectations, on clinical practice. Managers also completed an audit of current EBP activities underway in their respective departments.

Results: 160 surveys and 11 departmental audits were completed. Clinicians reported that clinical practice was largely influenced by clinical experience (mean=8.0 SD=1.3), followed by research evidence (mean=7.5 SD 1.5), patient values (mean=7.5 SD 1.6), and finally by organisational expectations (mean=7.1 SD 1.8). The range of EBP activities included; clinical practice skills (24%), research skills (16%), teaching and education (12%), communication skills (15%), leadership skills (14%), other skills (11%) and career development (7%). Grade 4 clinicians had the most time dedicated to research and project work (116 hours per week) and grade 1 clinicians the least (11 hours).

Significance of findings to allied health:

EBP is a key competency for AH professionals and an attribute of a developed research culture. Understanding current practice is an essential first step in the development of a sustainable EBP workforce and culture for Allied Health.

Biography: 

Tamara Tse is an occupational therapist with over 10 years clinical experience in junior, senior and management positions, over 7 years research experience and two years in academia.  As an occupational therapist and occupational scientist, her research interests and expertise have concentrated on understanding what people do and why they do what they do. Her doctoral research explored the consequences of stroke, including depressive symptoms and cognitive impairment using a mixed methodology to understand occupational participation after stroke.

Tamara committed to capacity building of health professionals, and teaching and mentoring post-graduate occupational therapists to undertake research and quality projects to improve the service they provide and the care they provide to their patients.  She is the project officer and associate investigator of the funded research project being presented today.