Building a Culture of Research Dissemination in Primary Health Care: The South Australian Experience of Supporting the Novice Researcher

Article excerpt

Abstract

The Primary Health Care Research Evaluation and Development (PHCRED) program in Australia aims to build research capacity in primary health care. In South Australia, the program (PHCREDSA) has addressed skill building in dissemination of research findings by providing support for peer reviewed publication. The support included comprehensive advice and feedback for novice and inexperienced researchers and writers in the publication process of the program's 2003 Conference Proceedings. This paper describes the South Australian experience of supporting novice researchers in research dissemination by applying the PHCRED-SA capacity building support model.

Aust Health Rev 2005: 29(1): 6-11

THE BUSY HEALTH CARE PRACTITIONER often sees engagement in research as an insurmountable challenge. Lack of research skills, time, funding and isolation from academic support have been identified as common barriers to research activity in general practice.1,2 Dissemination of research findings through peer reviewed publication is essential to continuous improvements in the quality of health care. Yet, practitioners new to research can often be inexperienced in writing and might be overwhelmed by the publication process.

The Primary Health Care Research Evaluation and Development (PHCRED) program in Australia aims to build research capacity in primary health care. The Research Capacity Building Initiative is one component of the PHCRED program that was initiated in 2000 and funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing until 2005. This Initiative has enabled University Departments of General Practice and Rural Health to implement strategies to help health professionals overcome barriers to research and publication.3 In South Australia, the Capacity Building Initiative supports primary health care practitioners in the uptake of research skills through training, mentoring, network and peer support and advice on resources (see Box 1). The principles of the model have been outlined by Farmer and Weston,4 and further details on model components, for example the South Australian Research Network (SARNet), have been described by Waters et al.5 and Farmer et al.6

As a part of the support model, the Initiative, through a state collaboration, held a state primary health care research conference in 2003. In this paper we describe our experience in providing support to novice researchers to publish an article in the peer reviewed conference proceedings.

The PHCRED-SA State Conference 2003

In 2003, the inaugural PHCRED-SA State Conference 'Growing Research in Primary Health Care' gave novice as well as experienced researchers the opportunity to present their work, to network with peers and experts and to build capacity in research and evaluation. The audience consisted of 135 health professionals, academics, students and consumers from metropolitan and rural South Australia and interstate. Thirteen of the 39 conference presenters were novice researchers. These novices were offered assistance in abstract wnting and power point or poster preparation from the more experienced PHCRED coordinators and directors involved in the state collaboration.

Comments from delegates confirmed that the conference had contributed to knowledge transfer and confidence building in primary health care research and dissemination (Box 2).

Publications in the peer reviewed Conference Proceedings

The conference organisers invited all presenters to submit their paper for peer review and publication in the Conference Proceedings. Novice writers were particularly encouraged by the extra support offered in the review process in the form of comprehensive feedback, advice and mentoring by the editor and co-editor. This editorial team were both PhD qualified and experienced in submitting publications to peer reviewed journals. The editor (JF) was a senior academic with over 20 years' experience of practice, teaching and research in primary health care, and the coeditor (KR) had 15 years experience in health research, both as a medical scientist and public health researcher. …