Purpose: Building research capacity within a busy clinical allied health department is important but can be limited by time, resources and expertise. In 1995, a role was created in our Physiotherapy Department whereby an individual with an interest and expertise in clinical research was identified and a proportion of their workload (12 hours/week) designated to fulfil a research co-ordination role. The aim of this role was to foster research and build research capacity within the Physiotherapy Department. This paper reports the achievements associated with this initiative to highlight its successes, difficulties and failures. Method: A retrospective descriptive review of research and other research-related activities undertaken over a 20-year period within the Physiotherapy Department of an adult, tertiary, public hospital was carried out, with particular attention to successes, difficulties and failures. Results: Since the introduction of a designated research co-ordinator in 1995, there have been 54 major publications in peer-reviewed journals and 91 presentations at a national/international conferences. Successes have included the high number of publications/presentations, the broad range of clinical areas where research has been undertaken, the clinical relevance of the research, the large number of staff involved, collaboration with other hospital departments/universities and staff involvement in post-graduate degrees. Difficulties have included slow recruitment rates to clinical trials, resource issues and lack of career structure for those interested in pursuing research as a career option within the healthcare sector. Failures have been infrequent but have included the need to abandon three studies due to recruitment or personnel issues, and a single instance of the inadvertent use of incorrect data. Conclusions: Identifying a clinician with an interest and expertise in clinical research and quarantining time to enable them to fulfil a broader research co-ordinating role was successful at fostering research and building research capacity within a clinical allied health department.

Author Bio(s)

Kathy Stiller, B App Sc (Physio), PhD, is the Allied Health Research Co-ordinator at Central Adelaide Local Health Network.

Naomi Haensel, Dip Tech (Physio), Grad Dip (Hlth Admin), is Senior Manager, Physiotherapy, Central Adelaide Local Health Network.



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