A cross sectional observational study of research activity of allied health teams: link between success and research

Team-based approaches to research capacity building (RCB) may be an efficient means to promote allied health research participation and activity. In order to tailor such interventions, a clearer understanding of current patterns of research participation within allied health teams is needed. Different self-report measures exist which evaluate a team’s research capacity and participation, as well as associated barriers and motivators. However, it remains unclear how such measures are associated with a team’s actual research activity (e.g., journal publications, funding received). In response, this observational study aimed to identify the research activity, self-reported success, and motivations and barriers to undertaking research of eight allied health professional (AHP) teams and to explore whether any relationships exist between the self-reported measures and actual research activity within each team.

A total of 95 AHPs from eight teams completed the research capacity and culture survey to evaluate team success, barriers and motivators to undertaking research, and an audit of research activity from January 2013 to August 2014 was undertaken within each team. Kendell’s correlation coefficients were used to determine the association between research activity (i.e., number of journal publications, ethically approved projects and funding received) and the self-reported measures.

Seven out of eight teams rated their teams as having average success in research and demonstrated some form of research activity including at least two ethically approved projects. Research activity varied between teams, with funding received ranging from $0 to over $100,000, and half the teams not producing any journal publications. Team motivators demonstrated a stronger association with research activity compared to barriers, with the motivator “enhancing team credibility” being significantly associated with funding received. No significant association between self-reported research success and actual research activity was identified.

Preliminary findings suggest that self-report measures of research success may not always correspond to actual research activity, and a combination of both these measures may be useful when planning RCB interventions. Variation in activity between teams and organisations should also be considered when tailoring RCB interventions. Reinforcing intrinsically motivating rewards of research may also be useful in promoting research participation for some teams.