Allied health professionals' perceptions of research in the United Kingdom national health service: a survey of research capacity and culture

Christine Comer, Richard Collings, Alison McCracken, Carol Payne, Ann Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With growing recognition of the importance of research in allied healthcare, the new Health Education England (HEE) research strategy articulates a need to transform Allied Health Professional (AHP) identities, culture and roles. An understanding of current AHP research capacity and culture is first required. A cross-sectional survey targeted AHPs working in NHS health and social care settings across the United Kingdom. The validated Research Capacity and Culture tool was modified and distributed through research and professional networks. Aggregate median scores for perceived research success were categorised as adequate, more than, or less than adequate. Of 3344 participants, 3145 identified as HEE-defined AHPs. Individual- and organisation-level research success was perceived as adequate (median scores 4 (IQR 2 to 6); 4 (IQR 2 to 7) respectively). Team-level research success was rated less than adequate (median score 2 (IQR 1-5)). In the UK, AHPs working in NHS health and social care perceive individual and organisational level research skill/success to be adequate. In contrast, inadequacies in research skill/support at team level were exposed, which may hinder successful integration of allied health research into everyday health and social care practice. Recommendations are made with reference to the HEE AHP research strategy. [Abstract copyright: © 2022. The Author(s).]
Original languageEnglish
Article number1094
Number of pages13
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
Early online date27 Aug 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) was established in 2006 to support health and social care research in and for the NHS. It is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care with a remit to ‘create a health research system in which the NHS supports outstanding individuals, working in world-class facilities, conducting leading-edge research focused on the needs of patients and the public’. Whilst a greater proportion of participants from England reported having ‘some’ or ‘fairly good’ knowledge/ awareness of NIHR (54%), most (74%) had little or no knowledge/ awareness of the NIHR/HEE integrated clinical academic training schemes for AHPs. Levels of awareness of research support infrastructure in England and the devolved nations are presented in Table .

Funding Information:
The study team would like to thank Nikki Cullum and Louise Connell for advice on the study protocol; Anthea Mould for establishing the NIHR/CAHPR AHP research champion scheme and for supporting this study; CAHPR, AHP professional bodies, HCPC, NIHR CRN and the health boards in the devolved nations for distribution and promotion of the survey; the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and North West Coast NIHR Clinical Research Network for advice on survey distribution and promotion; Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust for acting as sponsor for this study, and Thomas Osborn for invaluable assistance with study management.

Funding Information:
This research was supported by funding from Council for Allied Health Professions Research (CAHPR small grant award). During the study period CC was funded by a Health Education England/ National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Lectureship award (Grant Reference Number ICA-CL-2017–03-015). The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of CAHPR, or of the NIHR, of the National Health Service (NHS), or of the Department of Health and Social Care.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • Humans
  • Allied health professions
  • United Kingdom
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Research capacity
  • Allied Health Personnel
  • State Medicine
  • Research culture
  • Survey


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