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Abstract

Purpose: Allied health student clinics are growing in number and scope, providing a potential untapped avenue for clinical research. The aim of this pilot study was to assess the feasibility of conducting a longitudinal research study over four sessions in a student physiotherapy clinic under the supervision of registered physiotherapists as clinical educators.

Method: This feasibility study gathered data on recruitment in a designated time period, attendance rates and adherence of participants to the treatment, with evaluation also of the acceptability of the entire protocol to participants (patients, students, clinical educators) and to the research team.

Results: Data were collected over 12 weeks. Surveys providing feedback on the acceptability of the study protocol were completed by six of the 18 patients, nine of the 12 students, and four of the seven clinical educators. All patient participants felt that the student clinic was an appropriate research site and none considered the study protocol disruptive or intrusive of their time. Students reported that the study protocol did not increase their workload or impose major barriers to treatment or building rapport with patients.

Conclusion: While conducting research in a student clinic is feasible, the setting may be more appropriate for cross-sectional studies. Student engagement and educational value could be maximised by integrating the research into curriculum.

Author Bio(s)

Scott Buckerfield BPhty(Hons) graduated from the University of South Australia in 2016. He is currently working full-time as a musculoskeletal physiotherapist and maintains a keen interest in evidence-based practice.

Julie Walters BAppSc, PhD is a lecturer in physiotherapy at the University of South Australia. Her research interests include headache, osteoarthritis, and clinical education. She primarily works in the musculoskeletal discipline of physiotherapy.

Felicity Braithwaite BPhty(Hons) is a physiotherapist and PhD candidate at the University of South Australia. She works in the musculoskeletal discipline of physiotherapy, and her research interests include physical interventions, blinding and placebo effects.

Maureen McEvoy MAppSc(Phty), PhD is a lecturer and researcher in musculoskeletal physiotherapy, clinical education and evidence-based practice. She works primarily as a lecturer and clinical educator in a University outpatient clinic with fourth year students.

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge and thank the students, clinical educators and patients who participated in the study and the receptionist at the University of South Australia student physiotherapy clinic for her assistance during the study.

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