An observational cohort study to determine the impact of research capacity building strategies implemented in an Australian metropolitan hospital occupational therapy department

Aust Occup Ther J. 2021 Dec 23. doi: 10.1111/1440-1630.12782. Online ahead of print.


INTRODUCTION: Research capacity building enhances the abilities of individuals and is critical within health systems for quality patient care and promotes a culture of excellence within the occupational therapy profession. A research capacity building toolkit was proposed identifying strategies to support allied health professionals to undertake research. This study evaluated participant-reported outcomes of research capacity building toolkit implementation in an occupational therapy department.

METHODS: An observational pre-post-cohort study at a tertiary hospital with volunteer occupational therapists using the standardised Research Capacity in Context Tool (RCCT) and an author-designed quality improvement (QI) survey was employed. The RCCT measures research capacity and culture at organisation, team and individual levels. Semi-structured interviews were used to elicit reflections regarding participant experience.

RESULTS: All levels of the toolkit were implemented successfully. The response rate was 59% (n = 36) at baseline and 49.1% (n = 26) at follow-up. Eighty-five percent of participants held direct clinical roles. Nine clinicians participated in the interviews. There were significant improvements in the estimate mean for the organisation (6.51 [2019] compared with 8.13 [2020], p = <0.001) and the team (5.52 [2019] compared with 7.15 [2020], p = 0.001). The individual level did not significantly change with an estimate mean of 4.20 in 2019 increasing slightly to 4.84 in 2020 (p = 0.128). This was supported by the QI survey where improvements were noted in the department but not at an individual level. The qualitative findings verified the components of the toolkit including ‘supporting clinicians in research’, ‘working together’, ‘valuing research for excellence’ and reflected the importance of ‘individual attributes’.

CONCLUSION: The toolkit supported the implementation of specific strategies to enhance research capacity and culture. Improvements within the organisation and team were evident; however, these were not seen at an individual level. Further research about the contribution of individual-related factors and processes to the building of research capacity is required.

PMID:34951032 | DOI:10.1111/1440-1630.12782

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