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Open Access Research article

Factors influencing research engagement: research interest, confidence and experience in an Australian speech-language pathology workforce

Emma Finch123, Petrea Cornwell45, Elizabeth C Ward23 and Steven M McPhail36*

Author affiliations

1 Speech Pathology Department, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane, Australia

2 Division of Speech Pathology, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

3 Centre for Functioning and Health Research, Queensland Health, Brisbane, Australia

4 Behavioural Basis of Health, Griffith Health Institute, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia

5 Metro North Health Service District, Queensland Health, Brisbane, Australia

6 School of Public Health & Social Work and Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia

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Citation and License

BMC Health Services Research 2013, 13:144  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-144

Published: 19 April 2013

Abstract

Background

Recent initiatives within an Australia public healthcare service have seen a focus on increasing the research capacity of their workforce. One of the key initiatives involves encouraging clinicians to be research generators rather than solely research consumers. As a result, baseline data of current research capacity are essential to determine whether initiatives encouraging clinicians to undertake research have been effective. Speech pathologists have previously been shown to be interested in conducting research within their clinical role; therefore they are well positioned to benefit from such initiatives. The present study examined the current research interest, confidence and experience of speech language pathologists (SLPs) in a public healthcare workforce, as well as factors that predicted clinician research engagement.

Methods

Data were collected via an online survey emailed to an estimated 330 SLPs working within Queensland, Australia. The survey consisted of 30 questions relating to current levels of interest, confidence and experience performing specific research tasks, as well as how frequently SLPs had performed these tasks in the last 5 years.

Results

Although 158 SLPs responded to the survey, complete data were available for only 137. Respondents were more confident and experienced with basic research tasks (e.g., finding literature) and less confident and experienced with complex research tasks (e.g., analysing and interpreting results, publishing results). For most tasks, SLPs displayed higher levels of interest in the task than confidence and experience. Research engagement was predicted by highest qualification obtained, current job classification level and overall interest in research.

Conclusions

Respondents generally reported levels of interest in research higher than their confidence and experience, with many respondents reporting limited experience in most research tasks. Therefore SLPs have potential to benefit from research capacity building activities to increase their research skills in order to meet organisational research engagement objectives. However, these findings must be interpreted with the caveats that a relatively low response rate occurred and participants were recruited from a single state-wide health service, and therefore may not be representative of the wider SLP workforce.