#OTalk Research Tuesday 4th January 2022 – Making research your business in 2022

Happy New Year everyone and welcome back to our first #OTalk Research in 2022, this week Hosted by @preston_jenny with @NikkiDanielsOT on the @OTalk_ account  Inevitably it’s that time again when we reflect on the previous year and start to plan and set goals for the forthcoming year.  Inspired by a keynote address that I delivered last year entitled “Research and Development: that’s not my business” I wanted to bring this discussion to the #OTalk forum for a wider debate and what better time than when we are setting out our resolutions for the year.

During the keynote I challenged whose responsibility is it to create a research culture within an organisation.  Of course, it’s obvious, it’s everyone’s business.  Yet the evidence tells us that we don’t all share the same level of enthusiasm and excitement for research and development and inevitably we all demonstrate different levels of confidence in our abilities as researchers.  We also know that not everyone within health and social care sees research and development as their business.  We frequently hear from #OTalk participants who tell us that research and development within their organisations is often reserved for those individuals who have a clearly defined academic role or those who sit within specialist research teams. 

In March 2021 the UK Government and the devolved administrations “set out a bold and ambitious vision for the future of clinical research delivery and seeks to make research everyone’s business across health and social care through contributing to the delivery of clinical trials, supporting patients to access the latest research opportunities, or adapting current practices in line with new findings.”  Making research everyone’s business relies on the involvement of participants, volunteers and staff who provide day-to-day patient care – whatever clinical speciality they work in and whatever their job is. This can be as simple as talking about a research opportunity, right through to participating in the trial of a new medicine.”

Matus et al in their 2018 systematic review concluded that developing a research culture within an organisation requires “commitment and multi-faceted support from all levels of leadership and management.”  The findings of their review further emphasise that in order to build and sustain research engagement, leaders and managers should recognise the benefits of having research-active practitioners in the workforce and consider research to be part of their core business alongside clinical practice.

Commitment to and personal responsibilityfor the subsequent development of research and evaluation skills is clearly defined within the standards of proficiency for each Allied Health Profession as defined by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC, 2021).  Research and evaluation in occupational therapy practice is also dependent on the active involvement and commitment of managersin promotingandsupporting their staffas research consumers, research participants and career researchers.

Boaz et al (2015) and Harding et al (2017) advocate that health and social care organisations that engage in high quality, person-centred research activity have demonstrated higher rates of patient satisfaction, reduced mortality, improved quality performance, and improved organisational efficiency.  At a departmental level, they argue that a strong research culture is associated with reduced staff turnover and faster translation of evidence into practice with potential to improve patient outcomes, patient satisfaction and resource efficiency.  

Research skills according to Pighills et al (2013) are generally considered as components within a “research continuum” with evidence-based practice (EBP) skills at one end of the spectrum, progressing to the skills required to conduct research at the other.   Matus et al (2018) suggests that building research capacity may be targeted across the three different levels incorporating foundational skills in using research including understanding how to search for, appraise and consciously apply research evidence to inform practice; participating in research through activities such as participant recruitment and data collection; and leading research by developing research protocols and applying for funding.  

Successful strategies at an organisational level, according to Borkowski et al (2016) include embedding research activities into strategic plans, visions, missions and values and developing targets or key performance indicators (KPIs) for research.  Organisation level strategies also include incorporating research into clinical roles, increasing funding for appropriate backfill of clinical positions, supporting staff with joint clinical and academic appointments and creating opportunities to engage in research through secondment (Matus et al, 2018).

Similarly, Matus et al (2018) found that academic-practice partnerships were reported as an important strategy for increasing research capacity, engagement and output.  This was further supported by Slade et al (2018) who found that collaborations between healthcare practice settings and academic institutes such as universities were perceived to have impact at an organisational level.  Collaboration with universities and employing research facilitators within the healthcare service to provide guidance and support were identified by Hilder et al (2020) as emergent strategies for addressing some of the barriers to research engagement.

For anyone seeking to develop their research skills the RCOT Career Development Framework outlines the skills set required for nine levels within the Evidence, Research and Development pillar of practice.  This is a really helpful framework enabling us to establish our current level of skill while identifying some very practical tasks and skills to further our learning.

During this discussion we intend to focus on your personal plans for developing your research skills in 2022 while considering how this impacts on your wider organisation.  In order to support and challenge your thinking the chat will focus on the following questions:

  1. Do you discuss and set research goals within your annual performance review?
  2. Do you intend to set personal research goals for 2022?
  3. What might these goals look like?
  4. How likely are you to access a goal setting framework e.g. SMART goals (other frameworks are available)?
  5. What tools do you use to monitor and manage your performance against your goals?


Boaz A, Hanney S, Jones T, Soper B (2015).  Does the engagement of clinicians and organisations in research improve healthcare performance: a three-stage review. BMJ Open. 5(12):e009415

Borkowski D, McKinstry C, Cotchett M, Williams C, Haines T. Researchculture in allied health: a systematic review. Aust J Prim Health. 2016;22(4):294–303.

Department of Health and Social Care. Executive Office (Northern Ireland), Scottish Government, Welsh Government. The future of UK clinical research delivery. 23 March 2021. www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-future-of-uk-clinical-research-delivery

Harding KE, Porter J, Horne-Thompson A, Donley E, Taylor NF (2014). Not enough time or a low priority? Barriers to evidence-based practice for allied health clinicians. J Contin Educ Heal Prof. 34(4):224–31. https://doi.org/10.1002/chp.21255

Hilder J, Micakn S, Noble C, Weir KA, Wenke R  (2020)  Health Research Policy and Systems (2020) 18:71 https://doi.org/10.1186/s12961-020-00572-2

Matus, J; Walker, A; Mickan, S (2018) Research capacity building frameworks for allied health professionals – a systematic review.  BMC Health Services 18:716-727. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-018-3518-7  

Pighills AC, Plummer D, Harvey D, Pain T (2013) Positioning occupational therapy as a discipline on the research continuum: results of a cross sectional survey of research experience. Aust Occup Ther J. 60(4): 241–51.

RCOT Career Development Framework: Second Edition (2021)


Slade SC, Philip K, Morris ME (2018). Health Research Policy and Systems (2018) 16:29 https://doi.org/10.1186/s12961-018-0304-2

Post Chat

Host:   @preston_jenny

Support on OTalk Account:  @NikkiDanielsOT

Evidence your CPD. If you joined in this chat you can download the below transcript as evidence for your CPD, but remember the HCPC are interested in what you have learnt.  So why not complete one of our reflection logs to evidence your learning?

HCPC Standards for CPD.

  • Maintain a continuous, up-to-date and accurate record of their CPD activities.
  • Demonstrate that their CPD activities are a mixture of learning activities relevant to current or future practice.
  • Seek to ensure that their CPD has contributed to the quality of their practice and service delivery.
  • Seek to ensure that their CPD benefits the service user.
  • Upon request, present a written profile (which must be their own work and supported by evidence) explaining how they have met the Standards for CPD.

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