Within occupational therapy, the complex process of transitioning from clinician to clinician-researcher often presents challenges demanding critical contemplation. Methodological issues and ethical challenges can arise throughout the emergent transition into role duality, potentially impacting upon novice clinician-researcher development, influencing research processes and quality. As part of the Task-AT Home qualitative study, a reflexive critique of interview processes, guided by the reflection-on-action rubric and a typology of catalysts for dual-role experiences was conducted. The reflective critique identified commonalities and differences between clinical and research interviewing. Additionally, through three exemplars of experience, the critique provided insights into how clinical reasoning processes were used during interviews, influencing qualitative research processes. Having explored what can happen when an experienced clinician utilises clinical reasoning skills within a qualitative research project, skills and strategies have been identified, aiming to inform and support occupational therapists transitioning from clinician to clinician-researcher. Acknowledging the sometimes-imperfect realities of engaging in qualitative research, made visible by practicing reflection on action and sharing messy examples or occasions of personal conflict, can provide instructive moments for future clinicians looking to make the transition from clinician to clinician-researcher.


clinician-researcher, occupational therapy, qualitative interview, reflexivity, research ethics

Author Bio(s)

Heidi Lavis (corresponding author) is a senior occupational therapist (OT) and clinical educator with over 20 years of experience working in hospital and community settings in Australia and England, specialising in neurological impairment. Since graduating from the University of Sydney (1997), her work has been inspired by a desire to support and promote participation in important life roles that enable people to fulfil their visions of self, thereby promoting health and well-being throughout the lifespan. In recent years Heidi’s clinical expertise was recognised by the higher education sector, where she was offered and accepted a lecturer position with Charles Sturt University (CSU, Port Macquarie campus). She has been promoting and teaching into the undergraduate OT program since its inception in 2018. Extending her commitment to evidence-based practice, Heidi commenced a program of doctoral research with the University of Newcastle (UON) in 2019. Her research is a qualitative exploration of the experiences of stroke survivors, caregivers and therapists following participation in a home-based upper limb task specific training program following stroke (Task-AT Home). The decision to undertake a PhD within a qualitative framework was inspired by Heidi’s passionate belief in the importance of providing users of health services with a voice, valuing the contribution that lived experience can offer providers of health care in improving clinical practice. Please direct correspondence to Heidi.lavis@uon.edu.au.

Professor Paulette van Vliet is a mid-career researcher with an excellent international track record for stroke rehabilitation research. She trained as a physiotherapist in Australia, then became inspired to improve upper limb function on a larger scale and so embarked on her research career, which she has pursued for nine years FTE. Her vision is to improve upper limb function in people with stroke, by promoting neuroplasticity to develop more effective treatments. Her research career began in the UK after completing her MSc degree there (funded by International Rotary scholarship). She progressed from research fellow to associate professor at the Universities of Nottingham and Birmingham, then returned to Australia as a professor in 2011 to take up an ARC Future Fellowship and join a nationally leading stroke research group at University of Newcastle (UON).

Dr Meredith Tavener has 20 years+ experience as a qualitative health researcher. She conducts and advocates for authentic qualitative research as an integral part of implementation science. Dr Tavener is a leader in qualitative methods and has established an international and national reputation for her rigorous and mindful approach to interpretive research, ethical approaches to participant involvement and working with co-design and co-production. Dr Tavener coordinates and delivers innovative online courses in qualitative health methods for post-graduate students around the world. She has accepted over 50 invitations for conference presentations. She has built a reputation for her mentoring of ECRs and MCRs in qualitative methods and has also conducted 14 capacity building workshops in qualitative methods (since 2012) for PhD students, staff and community groups.


We would like to acknowledge and thank all of the stroke survivors, caregivers and therapists involved in this study, for generously sharing their stories and time with us.

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