REHABILITATION RESEARCH: CALL TO ACTION Research capacity needs of medical officers in rehabilitation and related services: insights to enhance participation in research

Published 10th May 2022

Geraghty T, Foster M, Burridge L.

What’s the issue? 
As demand rises, rehabilitation is predicted to be the key health strategy in the 21st century1. The need for research-informed practice is rising in parallel, but there are gaps.  Medical practitioners in areas such as rehabilitation medicine and pain medicine are often disengaged from research due to lack of opportunity, knowledge or skills2. Recommended strategies include identifying research opportunities and priorities3 and working with a team4. However, engagement with research remains a challenge. This highlights the importance of initiatives to build research capacity in these specialties.

Why is it important?
The problem for areas such as rehabilitation and pain medicine in a tertiary healthcare environment is the missed opportunities to contribute to the evidence-base for better practice, better health services, and better outcomes for people living with chronic complex conditions.  More needs to be understood about this persistent problem so that better strategies can be developed.

What are we doing?
In this mixed methods study and with institutional approvals, 14 rehabilitation and pain doctors were recruited from Queensland public hospitals within Metro South Health and affiliated with The Hopkins Centre. Participants completed an online survey. Descriptive analyses identified patterns in research experience, confidence, interest, opportunity and intent; as well as research priorities and specific research skills which participants wished to refresh or upgrade. A sub-sample participated in focus group discussion to explore their views regarding strategies to build doctors’ research capacity. The transcripts were analysed thematically to gain insights into the topic.

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