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PAL is the conjoint Queensland Health/Queensland University of Technology Research Fellow (Podiatry) identified in the manuscript. Otherwise, the authors have no relevant conflict of interest to disclose.
PAL and JG conceived, designed, researched data, contributed to discussion, wrote and reviewed/edited the manuscript. EMK and MB contributed to discussion and reviewed/edited the manuscript. DW conceived, contributed to discussion and reviewed/edited the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Research is a major driver of health care improvement and evidence-based practice is becoming the foundation of health care delivery. For health professions to develop within emerging models of health care delivery, it would seem imperative to develop and monitor the research capacity and evidence-based literacy of the health care workforce. This observational paper aims to report the research capacity levels of statewide populations of public-sector podiatrists at two different time points twelve-months apart.
The Research Capacity & Culture (RCC) survey was electronically distributed to all Queensland Health (Australia) employed podiatrists in January 2011 (n = 58) and January 2012 (n = 60). The RCC is a validated tool designed to measure indicators of research skill in health professionals. Participants rate skill levels against each individual, team and organisation statement on a 10-point scale (one = lowest, ten = highest). Chi-squared and Mann Whitney U tests were used to determine any differences between the results of the two survey samples. A minimum significance of p < 0.05 was used throughout.
Thirty-seven (64%) podiatrists responded to the 2011 survey and 33 (55%) the 2012 survey. The 2011 survey respondents reported low skill levels (Median < 4) on most aspects of individual research aspects, except for their ability to locate and critically review research literature (Median > 6). Whereas, most reported their organisation’s skills to perform and support research at much higher levels (Median > 6). The 2012 survey respondents reported significantly higher skill ratings compared to the 2011 survey in individuals’ ability to secure research funding, submit ethics applications, and provide research advice, plus, in their organisation’s skills to support, fund, monitor, mentor and engage universities to partner their research (p < 0.05).
This study appears to report the research capacity levels of the largest populations of podiatrists published. The 2011 survey findings indicate podiatrists have similarly low research capacity skill levels to those reported in the allied health literature. The 2012 survey, compared to the 2011 survey, suggests podiatrists perceived higher skills and support to initiate research in 2012. This improvement coincided with the implementation of research capacity building strategies.
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