|dc.description.abstract||Despite clinical physiotherapists’ practical experience and unique insights into the profession, few conduct research. Physiotherapists’ attitudes towards research and lack of research capacity have been identified as factors influencing their involvement in research.
In this thesis, a physiotherapy department of one rehabilitation hospital requested facilitation to build their research capacity by conducting a research project, using a participatory action research (PAR) approach. In this approach clinical physiotherapists worked together in (PAR) groups on their own research project and were facilitated by the research physiotherapist for one year.
The aim of my study was to explore the changes that occurred in physiotherapists, regarding attitude towards research and research capacity, while they were conducting research using a PAR approach.
A mixed method research design, based on a pragmatic paradigm underpinned my study. Data from four sources were triangulated. These sources were: 1) in-depth interviews, 2) three questionnaires, 3) group evaluation meetings within the PAR groups on their learning, and 4) field notes taken by the research physiotherapist during the project. A thematic approach was used to analyse the findings. Focus groups were conducted to verify the themes found.
Twenty-five physiotherapists consented for my study. Fourteen split into three PAR projects, while eleven were not involved. Findings have been described in four time slots; before, during, at completion, and one-year follow up of the one-year intervention.
Initial attitudes towards research and research capacity varied. Research was generally seen as complex and time consuming. Some physiotherapists were interested to learn more about research, while others were not.
During the intervention, three factors were identified as influencing the experience of these clinical physiotherapists: 1) transparent structure and roles, 2) similar perceptions and attitudes of clinicians in the PAR group towards research, and 3) positive relationships with management and PAR participants.
At completion of the one-year project, one group successfully conducted their research project, one group experienced obstacles at the start of the project, but overcame these, and the last group had been unable to start a research project. Changes in attitude and capacity were most apparent in the groups that had been successful.
One year after the intervention the physiotherapists in the most successful groups continued to stay involved in research and sustained the change in their attitude towards research and research capacity.
This is the first time a PAR approach has been used in the physiotherapy profession to stimulate research participation. Despite the small sample size and the use of one rehabilitation hospital, the findings indicate that clinical physiotherapists, working collaboratively, can successfully conduct research. However, in order to build a sustainable research community in a hospital setting with PAR three influencing factors are important: 1) an individual drive of the physiotherapist to conduct research, and a balance between 2) the participation of physiotherapists with the same drive and 3) the processes and documentation to provide structure. Rogers’ adopter categories and Wengers’ theory of communities of practice were used to discuss these findings in more depth.||