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ResearchMar 11, 2021

Two leading physios back framework that aims to boost AHPs' participation in research

A framework designed to help allied health professionals (AHPs) at every level of their career to get involved in research has been praised by two leading physiotherapists.

Cherry Kilbride, a reader in physiotherapy at Brunel University London and lead AHP for research at the Royal Free London NHS Trust, voiced support this week (8 March) for the framework.

Photo Credit: Brunel University London
Cherry Kilbride's career links academic work with an NHS post promoting research

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Promoting 'active involvement' in research

Describing herself as a physiotherapist and researcher, Dr Kilbride said: ‘We are trying to enact what the framework is advocating. This framework will help to raise awareness of the role that AHPs can play in developing and delivering research.

‘It has the potential to make an impact on the career pathways of AHPs interested in research and it could also raise awareness of how AHPs can become more actively involved.'

We have to move from the typical dyad of nurses and doctors to a triad that includes ... AHPs [who] need to be part of the infrastructure and this consolidated framework can assist with this goal [Cherry Kilbride]

From a dyad to a triad involving AHPs

Dr Kilbride added: ‘It provides much-needed support for practitioners to have the importance of research recognised in their job plans and job descriptions.

‘We have to move from the typical dyad of nurses and doctors to a triad that includes AHP and beyond. AHPs need to be part of the infrastructure and this consolidated framework can assist with this goal.”

'Aspiring researcher' physiotherapist Jennifer Harris

Jennifer Harris, the lead senior physiotherapist at Chesterfield Royal Hospitals NHS Trust, was the lead author of a paper about the framework that was published last year. Titled Developing a consolidated research framework for clinical allied health professionals practising in the UK, the article is available here

She said: ‘As an aspiring AHP researcher myself, I was excited to define the knowledge, skills and behaviours I had achieved to date and to understand what opportunities might give me the confidence to plan the next steps of my clinical-academic career.

‘Developing this framework helped me consider this in a simple and structured manner, making it feel less intimidating and more achievable.'

Ms Harris added: ‘It was interesting to hear participant perspectives on how this framework might reflect the varying roles and range of practice environments experienced by AHPs and how this might influence future health and social research culture.’

What the NIHR says:

  • there are 65,000 AHPs in the UK – one third of the health and social care workforce
  • AHPs offer ‘huge potential’ for using research-based practice to improve patients’ health and wellbeing
  • many AHPs do not feel confident engaging in research
  • some believe their knowledge and skills are inferior to other healthcare professionals and – as a result – need substantial support to develop research skills
  • the new, common framework is an attempt to unify disciplines – using language they all share – to build a stronger culture of research for all AHPs


The Shaping Better Practice Through Research: A Practitioner's Framework is available on the website of the Council for Allied Health Professions Research, which is supported by the Chartered Society for Physiotherapy and 12 other AHP bodies. See: https://cahpr.csp.org.uk/documents/cahpr-research-practitioners-framework

Cherry Kilbride’s and Jennifer Harris's comments appear on the website of the National Institute for Health Research – which provided funding to help create the framework. See: https://evidence.nihr.ac.uk/alert/research-framework-allied-health-professionals-promotes-research-culture/

Author: Ian A McMillan
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