Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

Applying Social Cognitive Career Theory to Registered Dietitian Research Involvement: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

Applying Social Cognitive Career Theory to Registered Dietitian Research Involvement: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to measure the effect of a social cognitive career theory (SCCT)-based educational intervention combined with an evidence-based practice (EBP) continuing professional education (CPE) program (standard-plus group) as compared to the EBPCPE program alone (standard group) and a no-treatment control on research outcome constructs (research self-efficacy, research outcome expectations, research interest and research involvement) in dietitians. METHODS: This randomized controlled trial measured the effect of an online 14-week educational intervention, with measurements made pre- and post-intervention and at 3-month follow-up. A randomly selected list of registered dietitians (RDs), who reported clinical nutrition as their primary practice area, was obtained from the Commission on Dietetic Registration. Subjects (n=580) were randomly assigned to three study groups, and 47.2% (n=272) completed data collection. RESULTS: The treatment effect between the groups was significantly different for research self-efficacy (p<0.001) and research involvement (p=0.005), with positive effects observed in the standard-plus and standard groups. There were no significant effects for research outcome expectations and research interest. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first known application of SCCT to RD research involvement as a career-related behavioral outcome, and it demonstrated that a significant increase in research self-efficacy occurs following participation in an educational intervention on EBP. J Allied Health 2014; 43(4):201-211.

INVOLVEMENT IN RESEARCH is considered an important progression of professional practice in many health disciplines, including dietetics. Research involvement has been proposed as a research continuum with four levels: application of research to practice, translation of research to practice, conduct of research, and implementation of research initiatives.1,2 Ideally, to reflect competent practice, every allied health professional (AHP) would be involved in the first level of the research continuum by applying an evidencebased approach to their practice.1,2 Evidence-based practice (EBP), an approach to healthcare decisions that uses the best available evidence and patient values in combination with practitioner expertise,3,4 is a critical component of the professional foundation and practice of each AHP.5

There is a contrast between the reported high valuation of research to support practice and the low rates of AHP research involvement.5-8 Barriers to research involvement among AHPs and physicians include time, work demands, interest, funding, and a lack of confidence or perceived inadequacy in research knowledge and skills.5,6,9,10 Regardless of the reason for low research involvement, the individual's perception of their capacity to conduct research may influence their research involvement.6

Health professions have applied social cognitive career theory (SCCT) to better understand what leads to increased clinician research involvement (Fig. 1).11,12 SCCT11 is an extension of social cognitive theory,13 combining social cognitive variables (self-efficacy, outcome expectations) with career development theories, to explain career behaviors, such as the development of vocational interest and level of vocational performance. According to SCCT, if individuals believe they are capable of successfully preparing for and performing in a career (self-efficacy) and the outcomes of their efforts would be personally desirable (outcome expectations), they are likely to develop interest in a specific career or activities within a career field and pursue involvement in those activities.11,12 Theoretically, if AHPs believe they are capable of successfully developing and applying research knowledge and skills, they will be more likely to develop interest in research involvement within their careers. Therefore, one of the keys to developing interest in research involvement is enhancing the individual's beliefs in their capabilities and the outcomes of their efforts. …

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