Academic journal article British Journal of Occupational Therapy

A Review of Occupational Therapy Research and Development Activity in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales

Academic journal article British Journal of Occupational Therapy

A Review of Occupational Therapy Research and Development Activity in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales

Article excerpt

Introduction

In 2002, the College of Occupational Therapists (COT) published the summary of a scoping study of occupational therapy research and development activity in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales (Creek and Ilott 2002). This work had been undertaken to provide a professional perspective on development within the three nations, following the England-only multiprofessional study funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (2001). The scoping study found considerable interest in research activity and an emerging supportive infrastructure, but much occupational therapy research was small scale, local and self-funded and a range of barriers to progress was identified. At this time, a commitment was made by the College's Research and Development Group that a future review would be undertaken in order to explore the progress made in occupational therapy research and development in the three nations.

The review of the scoping study was taken forwards with reference to the objectives contained in the review of the College's overall Research and Development Strategic Vision and Action Plan (White and Creek 2007). This 2007 publication, undertaken to support the development of the profession's research agenda by both members and their professional organisation, proposed a series of actions that were reflective of the policy contexts and stages of research development across the United Kingdom (UK) nations. By reviewing the scoping study within the context of the wider research and development strategy, it would be possible to highlight country-specific opportunities for occupational therapy engagement in research activity within the context of a UK-wide action plan. In addition, 2007 saw the publication of Building the Evidence for Occupational Therapy: Priorities for Research (COT 2007), so further opportunity was afforded to assess how research activity had been shaped by the profession's identified research priority areas.

Objectives

The objectives of the current project were to identify how the infrastructure supporting occupational therapy research had evolved since the publication of the original 2002 study and to explore whether recommendations made within that document had been met. The project also aimed to capture information relating to the opportunities that are currently available to occupational therapists interested in engaging in research in the three nations and the barriers to progress. Finally, the project would highlight how members could take forward the actions proposed in the review of the College's Research and Development Strategic Vision and Action Plan (White and Creek 2007) and how the College could best support this member activity.

Method

Project design

The review of the scoping study was developed as a two-stage project. The first stage, undertaken by student researchers, involved reviewing the policy contexts and mapping the development of the infrastructure for occupational therapy research separately within each of the three nations. This was undertaken through a review of publications produced by relevant government departments.

The second stage involved a consultation exercise with occupational therapy researchers who were identified as having (or approaching) doctoral level qualification and by reference to the 2005 Register of Therapy Researchers, which was available on the College of Occupational Therapists' website at that time. A number of participants had been involved in the original 2002 scoping study and were, therefore, able to provide an insight into subsequent developments that had impacted on occupational therapy research. A focus group methodology was adopted because this approach was considered appropriate both as a means of obtaining rich information and for the number of participants likely to be available (DePoy and Gitlin 1994). A focus group of invited experts, facilitated by the lead researcher, was held in each of the three nations in order to explore the participants' perspectives on the following topics:

* Progress with recommendations from the original scoping study (Creek and Ilott 2002); these included the need for the development of research career pathways, strategic alliances within and outside the profession, and research activity focused on local and national health care priorities

* Progress in opportunities for occupational therapy research

* Barriers to occupational therapy research

* Opportunities posed by the recommendations for action by members and the professional organisation contained in the 2007 review of the College's Research and Development Strategic Vision and Action Plan (White and Creek 2007). …

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