Increasing the use of research findings in four allied health professions
The research-practice gap persists in the allied health professions because they perceive or experience barriers to research utilisation. The focus of this work was on overcoming these barriers to increase research utilisation in four allied health professions: nutrition and dietetics, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and speech and language therapy. There were two aspects to this: the development of an intervention and a critical review of measurement in the field. An action research project, involving interviews, focus groups, a critical review of manuals and a peer review process, identified a seven-step process to enable therapy managers to increase research utilisation. The seven steps of this process were the therapy manager, lead therapist, consultation process, action plan, making it happen, monitoring and evaluating and revising the action plan. This process was used to form the structure of the Turnkey manual. Fortyeight measures of research utilisation were identified for critical review and, with a few exceptions, there was a lack of rigour in the development of these tools. The conceptual framework developed suggested a profile of measures was needed to assess research utilisation. The Bannigan Utilisation of Research Profile is proposed as a basis for further research. As there were no sufficiently robust measures available to evaluate the effectiveness of the Turnkey manual a single case study was used to assess its utility. This identified that the model of manager and lead therapist was viable and that the Turnkey manual, with modification, is a potentially useful intervention. This work has demonstrated that research utilisation is still a nascent subject; there is a lack of definition, interdisciplinary research and coherence in the field. Systems thinking has been explored as a means of researching this complex concept, providing a way forward for interdisciplinary work and perhaps establishing this emerging subject.