The role and impact of research positions within health care settings in allied health: A systematic review

Rachel Wenke*, Sharon Mickan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)
55 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Embedding dedicated research positions within healthcare settings is a potential strategy to build allied health research capacity, with different health care organisations investing in such positions. The aim of this review was to gather evidence regarding the nature of the role of the research position in allied health professional (AHP) healthcare settings and the impact that these positions have on building research capacity. Methods: A systematic review was undertaken searching eight databases (Medline CINAHL, Cochrane, OTSeeker, Speechbite, PEDro, Web of Science, and Proquest) using English language restrictions. Both authors independently screened abstracts, reviewed full-text articles, extracted data and performed quality assessments using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool. Studies were included that reported the evaluation and/or components of the role of a dedicated research position with AHPs in any healthcare setting. A thematic analysis approach was used to synthesise findings. Results: A total of 360 abstracts were initially screened, with 58 full text articles being reviewed. Eight unique studies were included in the thematic analysis clarifying either the nature of role of the research position (n = 7) or impact of the position (n = 4). Studies included mixed methods (n = 3), descriptive case study (n = 4), and observational (n = 1) designs. The majority of studies reported the research positions to provide academic support to individual clinicians and their teams, while developing their own research projects. Other studies reported support for research capacity building at a service and organisational level. Positive changes from these research positions was reported via increased individual research skills and participation and research outputs, improvements in research culture, attitudes and team and organisational level skills. Conclusion: Emerging evidence suggests that research positions embedded within healthcare settings can influence individual and team based research skills and research participation of AHPs. Future research is needed to further investigate the sustainability of changes arisen from research positions and what mechanisms of the positions have the greatest impact. Healthcare managers should consider how to support potential components of the research position roles identified in the literature, as well consider evaluating their impact on research capacity, cultural and attitudinal changes of AHP staff in addition to traditional research metrics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number355
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


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