Research capacity and culture of the Victorian public health allied health workforce is influenced by key research support staff and location Academic Article uri icon


  • Objective The aim of the present study was to identify and understand the self-rated research capacity and culture of the allied health workforce. Methods The present study was a cross-sectional survey. The Research Capacity and Culture tool was disseminated to all Victorian public health allied health departments. General demographic data were also collected, including the presence of an organisational allied health research lead. Results Five hundred and twenty fully completed surveys were returned by participants; all allied health disciplines and all grades were represented. One hundred and eighty-six participants had an organisational allied health research lead and 432 were located in a metropolitan-based health service. There were significant differences (P < 0.05) within all organisational and team research skills between those with and without a research lead, together with those in different service locations (metropolitan vs non-metropolitan). Higher self-ratings in individual research skills (P < 0.05) were primarily associated with more senior and metropolitan-located clinicians. Conclusion The allied health workforce identifies as a group that is ready to build the evidence to support clinical practice yet requires a whole-systems approach to do so. The results of the present study suggest that the development of key people to build capacity at a higher organisational level has a flow-down effect on research capacity and culture. What is known about the topic? Some allied health disciplines (occupational therapy, dietetics and podiatry) have previously been surveyed about their research capabilities, capacity and culture. Those surveys identified individual skill and success in undertaking early phase research activities, such as finding and critiquing the literature. However, there were limitations to research activity identified, such as a lack of success or skill in the later phase of research projects to undertake analysis of data, writing for publication and mentoring less experienced clinicians in research. What does this paper add? The present study explored the effect of extrinsic factors on undertaking research activity within the allied health workforce. It determined that there are several factors that affect the organisation and team levels of research capacity and culture, but these factors were different to the self-reported individual success or skills. The results can assist organisations to make strategic decisions about how to engage allied health clinicians in research activities. What are the implications for practitioners? The results of the present study give a platform for the Victorian allied health workforce to grow in its engagement in research activities and use of evidence. This knowledge is important to decision makers and funding bodies, as well as to the Australian allied health workforce.

publication date

  • 2015