Allied health professional research engagement and impact on healthcare performance: A systematic review protocol

Chalmers, Sophie orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-5919-1740, Hill, James Edward orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-1430-6927, Connell, Louise Anne orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-0629-2919, Ackerley, Suzanne orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7059-3329, Kulkarni, Amit Arun and Roddam, Hazel orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-0637-1801 (2023) Allied health professional research engagement and impact on healthcare performance: A systematic review protocol. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 58 (3). pp. 959-967. ISSN 1460-6984

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Background: Existing evidence suggests that clinician and organization engagement in research can improve healthcare processes of care and outcomes. However, current evidence has considered the relationship across all healthcare professions collectively. With the increase in allied health clinical academic and research activity, it is imperative for healthcare organizations, leaders and managers to understand engagement in research within these specific clinical fields. This systematic review aims to identify the effect of engagement in research by allied health professionals (AHPs) and organizations on healthcare performance. Methods: This systematic review has a two‐stage search strategy. The first stage will be to screen a previous systematic review examining the effectiveness of engagement in research in health and social care to identify relevant papers published pre‐2012. The search strategy used in the previous review will then be rerun, but with a specific focus on allied health. This multi‐database search will identify publications from 2012 to date. Only studies that assessed the effectiveness of allied health engagement in research will be included. All stages of the review will be conducted by two reviewers independently, plus documented discussions with the wider research team when discrepancies occur. This systematic review protocol follows the EQUATOR reporting guidelines of the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta‐Analyses for Protocols (PRISMA‐P). Discussion: The findings of this review will make a significant contribution to the evidence base around the effect of allied health engagement in research on healthcare performance. It will provide insights for clinicians and managers looking to understand the consequences of developing AHP research capability and capacity. The findings of this review will also aim to make recommendations for future evaluation approaches for engagement in research interventions. Trial registration: This systematic review protocol has been registered with PROSPERO, registration number CRD42021253461. What this paper adds: What is already known on the subject: This study will provide valuable evidence for professionals and policymakers seeking to understand engagement in research in the allied health disciplines. Where supported by the data, there may be recommendations for future research regarding specific variables to be considered when planning and evaluating engagement in research in allied health practice. What this paper adds to existing knowledge: A previous systematic review identified a positive association between clinician and organization engagement in research and improved processes of care and health outcomes. The reviews’ findings have been used as a justification for clinicians and organizations to increase research capacity. That review evaluated literature published before 2012 and the studies that were identified predominantly reported on engagement in research by medics and nurses. An updated review is now required to include research published since 2012. This review will specifically focus on the effect of engagement in research within allied health disciplines. What are the potential or actual clinical implications of this work?: Research activity among AHPs is gaining momentum. Given this growth in AHP research activity and the rise in dedicated clinical academic roles, a contemporary review to identify the specific effect of AHP engagement in research on healthcare performance is prudent. The findings will inform clinicians, clinical managers and leaders of the potential impact of research activities by AHP clinicians and organizations. This will support the planning and development of initiatives focused on research capacity, capability and culture within allied health.

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