Building the Research Capacity of Clinical Physical Therapists Using a Participatory Action Research Approach

Janssen, Jessica orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-5961-2736, Hale, Leigh, Mirfin-Veitch, Brigit and Harland, Tony (2013) Building the Research Capacity of Clinical Physical Therapists Using a Participatory Action Research Approach. Physical therapy, 93 (7). pp. 923-934. ISSN 1538-6724

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BACKGROUND: This 2-year study explored the experiences of clinical physical therapists who used a participatory action research (PAR) approach to learn about the practice of clinical research. OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to explore the experiences of physical therapists who were conducting clinical research, facilitated by a PAR approach. DESIGN: A mixed-methods research design was used. METHODS: Physical therapists completed questionnaires, were interviewed, and participated in focus groups prior to and after the 1-year intervention and 1 year later. The research facilitator took field notes. Questionnaire data were analyzed descriptively, and themes were developed from the qualitative data. Twenty-five therapists took part in 4 self-selected groups. RESULTS: Three groups actively participated in the PAR research projects (n=14). The remaining 11 therapists decided not to be involved in clinical research projects but took part in the study as participants. After 1 year, one group completed the data collection phase of their research project, and a second group completed their ethics application. The third group ceased their research project but hosted a journal club session. At completion of the study, the experiences of the physical therapists were positive, and their confidence in conducting research and orientation toward research had increased. The perceptions of physical therapists toward research, relationships among individuals, and how the clinical projects were structured influenced the success of the projects. LIMITATIONS: Only physical therapists of one hospital and no other health care practitioners were included in this study. CONCLUSIONS: Fourteen physical therapists divided among 3 PAR groups were overall positive about their experiences when they conducted a research project together. This finding shows that a PAR approach can be used as a novel tool to stimulate research participation in clinics.

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