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Abstract

Purpose: Strengthening research capacity (RC) amongst health professionals has both organisational and individual benefits. It can increase the quality of research and support the transfer of evidence into practice and policy. However there is little evidence on what works to develop and strengthen RC. This paper contributes to the evidence base by reporting findings from an evaluation of a programme that aimed to build capacity to use and do research amongst NHS and local authority organisations and their staff in a large english research partnership organisation. Methods: The evaluation used multiple qualitative methods including semi-structured interviews, focus groups and workshops (n=131 respondents including public advisers, university, NHS, and local government partners). Results: The RC building programme provided a range of development opportunities for NHS and local authority staff resulting in increased confidence and skills to undertake, participate in, and use research. Additionally, positive influences on organisational practice and collaborative working were reported. Conversely, challenges to developing research capacity were also identified as were the importance of resources, senior level buy-in, and the relevance of research topic to practice in facilitating participation in the programme. Conclusion: Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care North West Coast’s (CLAHRC-NWC) RC building programme differed from convential approaches giving less emphasis to formal teaching and more to experiental learning and focusing on both individual capacities and supporting organisations to integrate RC building into staff development programmes. The findings demonstrate that providing opportunities for staff in NHS and local authority organisations to develop research knowledge and skills alongside an infrastructure that supports and encourages their participation in research can have positive impacts on research capacity and organisational research culture. The potential for generalising this approach to other organisational contexts is discussed

Author Bio(s)

Koser Khan, MA is a Senior Research Associate at the Division of Health Research, Faculty of Health and Medicine, Lancaster University, Lancaster, United Kingdom.

Ana Poroche-Escudero, Dr is a Senior Research Associate at the Division of Health Research, Faculty of Health and Medicine, Lancaster University, Lancaster, United Kingdom.

George Georgiou,Dr is a Research Capacity Delivery Manager, Applied Research Collaboration North West Coast IMPACT team, UCLan (University of Central Lancashire), Preston, United Kingdom.

Jennie Popay is a Distinguished Professor of Sociology & Public Health at the Division of Health Research, Faculty of Health and Medicine, Lancaster University, Lancaster, United Kingdom.

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank all those involved in supporting the delivery of the evaluation, data collection and analysis that contributed to the production of the manuscript. Fiona Ward Senior Research Associate, Shaima Hassan Postdoctoral Research Associate, Esmaeil Khedmati Postdoctoral Research Associate, Joanna Harrison Research Manager UCLan) Dame Professor Caroline Watkins Director of Capacity Building and Implementation ARC NWC, Dr Jane Cloke Programme Manager ARC NWC, Gill Sadler CLAHRC-NWC Senior Manager and to the public advisers Dorcus Akeju and Saiqa Ahmed for their contributions as part of the Evaluation Sub-group.

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