New publication looks at research education and training for nurses and allied health professionals

Research education and training for nurses and allied health professionals: a systematic scoping review

  • Authors: Olivia A. King, Emma West, Sarah Lee, Kristen Glenister, Claire Quilliam, Anna Wong Shee, and Hannah Beks
  • BMC Medical Education. 2022 May 19;22(1):385. doi: 10.1186/s12909-022-03406-7.

Research education is a mainstay strategy to build research capacity in individuals and healthcare organisations. Many organisations deliver research education and training programs, however the evidence supporting research education is unclear. Through our scoping review, we looked at the features of research education programs, the educational principles underpinning these programs, how they were evaluated, and the types of outcomes that were reported.

We found that research education programs have been delivered and documented in 14 high-income countries, for the last five decades. These programs were designed and delivered over vastly different timeframes, with some being one-off seminars and others integrated into longer term programs, such as fellowships. Education programs were frequently multifaceted (e.g., they included traditional teaching methods, plus group work) and many allowed for experiential learning (learning by doing). Relatively few programs were explicitly founded on principles of adult learning, however many included features consistent with learning theories (e.g., mentoring, experiential learning, self-efficacy theory). Mentoring was a feature of half of the programs described.

Programs were often evaluated using surveys, with fewer evaluated via focus groups, interviews, and by measuring objective outcomes (e.g., number of papers published, conference presentation, or other outputs). Most programs evaluated satisfaction or self-reported changes in research skills, knowledge, and attitudes. Very few program evaluations considered organisational outcomes or the impact on health practice and local policy. Overall, evaluation methods were poorly described.

Although education is targeted at the individual level, it remains a key strategy to build research capacity in healthcare organisations. We have highlighted some of the common and important features of programs. Program evaluation must be rigorous and consider organisational outcomes and impacts.