‘The road less travelled? Supporting occupational therapists to conduct RCTs’
This week’s OTalk Research is on the topic of conducting RCTs in occupational therapy and will be hosted by Avril Drummond (@AvrilDrummond1). Avril is Professor of Healthcare Research and Director of Research at the University of Nottingham, with a specialist interest in conducting randomised controlled trials (RCTs).
Here’s what Avril has to say ….
The term Evidence Based Practice (EBP) is used widely in both education and clinical practice. However, the reality is that evidence can mean slightly different things to specific groups who recognise different levels of quality; some advocate the traditional RCT evidence as the gold standard whereas others feel qualitative research is richer and more informative. However, although bodies who produce national clinical recommendations (such as NICE), are appreciating qualitative research much more than before, ultimately RCT evidence is the basis for many of their recommendations.
There are clear merits for using qualitative and quantitative methodologies and, increasingly, mixed methods. The bottom line is always what question is being answered. However, nonetheless, my impression is that OTs are more inclined to be involved in qualitative research (although I admit to having no hard evidence to back this up!). This might be for many reasons; a belief that the profession aligns itself more naturally with qualitative methodologies, more perceived difficulties in conducting RCTs and perhaps more bias in OT training towards ‘softer’ research. Yet generating RCT evidence is vital given that so many regard this as the gold standard – and fundamental to funding an intervention. Even results from small, underpowered RCTs can be used in meta-analysis to produce clear recommendations.
So the topic of this OTalk Research is RCTs. Here are some questions to consider:
- Do you think OTs are more likely to do qualitative research? Why is this?
- What is challenging for OTs about conducting RCTs?
- What would make OTs more confident in conducting RCTs?
- Has anyone been involved in an RCT? How did you get involved?
- What would help more OTs to get involved in conducting RCTs?
- What are the benefits of being involved – individually and for the profession?
Note that the topic title is the road less travelled (from the Robert Frost poem). The actual full line reads ‘Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference. ‘
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