Our Allied Health Research Team provide tailored research support and mentorship to Allied Health Professionals across the Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service including Audiologists, Dietitians, Occupational Therapists, Pharmacists, Physiotherapists, Psychologists, Social Workers, Speech Pathologists, amongst others. Each of these professions are undertaking innovative research with most having their own research groups or committees.
The Allied Health Research team aims to help build the research culture and capacity of these allied health professions and their collaboratives to ultimately improve health care services and outcomes. The team leads the development and implementation of the Allied Health Research Plan, as well as research which formally evaluates innovative research capacity building initiatives.
Vision for Allied Health Research
Embedding an inspiring research culture to transform and improve healthcare for our community.
Our Mission Statement
We will nurture an inclusive research culture across Gold Coast Health Allied Health through collaboration and innovation, to lead and implement outstanding consumer-focused research which improves healthcare.
Allied Health Research Plan 2024-2026
An overview of Allied Health Research’s Plan for 2024 to 2026 including key objectives can be found here. The key objectives of the plan align with the strategic pillars of the Gold Coast Health Allied Health Strategic Plan 2024-2026. In consultation with key stakeholders, the Allied Health Research team has developed activities, measures and timeframes to fulfil these key objectives.
Summary of Research Activity
The following Allied Health Research Activity report 2021-2023 showcases the diversity of innovative research activity undertaken by Gold Coast Health allied health professionals. This includes 146 ethically approved research projects, 140 journal publications, $2.79 million in grant funding awarded and 122 conference presentations across multiple service areas. Some emerging themes and areas of strength within Allied Health research include:
- Innovative models of care evaluation including primary contact Allied Health clinics and multidisciplinary clinics, particularly in outpatient and community settings.
- Rehabilitation in the areas of stroke, traumatic brain injury and other chronic conditions.
- Digital Solutions including the exploration of artificial intelligence and other digital platforms to support clinical care and create efficiencies.
Our Allied Health Research Team
The Allied Health Research Team includes temporary and permanent positions that are either solely funded through GCH or jointly funded with a University.
If you are interested in a potential collaboration or to discuss a jointly funded position with your institution, please contact us at AlliedHealthResearchGCH@health.qld.gov.au
Dr Rachel Wenke is the Director of Allied Health Research for Gold Coast Health. She has mentored over 40 clinicians undertake research projects using a range of designs including randomised controlled trials, mixed methods and qualitative approaches. Rachel has over 19 years experience as a speech pathologist and her research interests include research capacity building, knowledge translation, rehabilitation models of care and digital solutions to enhance patient and service outcomes. Read more: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Rachel-Wenke
Please note Rachel is on maternity leave until late January 2025.
Dr Laetitia Hattingh is Acting Director of Allied Health Research. She has expertise in research methodology and the clinical and social aspects related to health care delivery. Laetitia is a pharmacist with specific research interests in medication management and safety in hospital and primary care, mental health and substance misuse, evaluation of new models of care and ethics/law. Read more: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Laetitia-Hattingh
Dr Shelley Roberts is a conjoint Allied Health Research Fellow with GCH and Griffith University. Her background is in nutrition and dietetics, and she is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian. Dr Roberts' research focuses on improving nutrition among hospitalised patients, with particular interests in patient participation in care and patient centred care; healthcare technologies; pressure injury prevention; and integrated knowledge translation. Read more: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Shelley-Roberts
Dr Caitlin Brandenburg is the conjoint Principal Research Fellow Allied Health with GCH and Bond University. She has experience in a range of research designs, but specialises in qualitative and knowledge translation methodology. Caitlin has a background in Speech Pathology, but has mentored clinicians in diverse fields to achieve success in research. Her own research interests are in health services research and clinician research capacity building. Read more: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Caitlin-Brandenburg-2
We have various temporarily funded Service Improvement and Research Officer roles that are attached to specific research projects. These projects may be internally funded through Allied Health Research or via externally obtained grant funding and provide a means for clinicians to further develop research skills. Roles are allocated with regard to identified Allied Health Research priority areas and are advertised by internal EOI.
The core function of the GCHHS Allied Health Research and Innovation Leadership Committee (AHRILC) is to provide strategic advice and recommendations regarding research culture and practice, funding opportunities and allocations, research capacity building, research priorities, knowledge translation evidence-based practice, and innovations that may lead to research opportunities. A secondary function of the AHRILC is to foster communication across AH research groups/committees internally and externally.
The committee is chaired by the Director of Allied Health Research Members include research leaders from each of the Allied Health Professions’ own research collaboratives including Audiology, Dietetics, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, Pharmacy, Psychology, Speech Pathology, and Social Work as well as external partners.
Current Research Projects within Allied Health Research Collaborative
- Exploring allied health professionals’ attitudes and perceptions towards artificial intelligence in the clinical setting: a mixed-methods study
- Co designing a consumer engagement in research framework for Gold Coast Health
- Assessment of Discipline Research Officer Intervention in Allied Health (ADROIT): A realist evaluation
- Spread of structured journal clubs into clinical services using WE-TREAT: A knowledge translation approach
- Implementing Good Clinical Practice Standards within Allied Health Research: A mixed-methods exploratory study
- Evaluation of the Allied Health Demand and Capacity Tool
Initiatives within Allied Health Research
The following initiatives are currently in place to support allied health professionals to become more active research users, participants, and leaders.
Giving clinicians the time to participate in research.
- The Allied Health Clinical Backfill for Research initiative supports clinicians to go offline for up to 20 days to focus on activities associated with research projects being undertaken within the HHS that align with Allied Health’s vision and mission.
- Evaluation of the early rounds of the initiative have shown meaningful improvements in individual clinician research capacity as well as positive research outputs:
- These monthly lunchtime forums (mostly held on the 3rd Tuesday of each month 12-1pm) showcase clinically meaningful research projects being undertaken by Allied Health Professionals.
- All HHS staff are invited to attend the forums in person over a catered lunch or online and participate in stimulating discussion following the research presentations.
- For more details email AlliedHealthResearchGCH@health.qld.gov.au
The “TREAT” journal club format stands for “Tailoring Research Evidence And Theory” – and was developed by GCH allied health professionals and researchers in 2015. Further information and resources about implementing a TREAT journal club can be found at www.treatjournalclubs.com. Some unique features of TREAT journal clubs compared to standard journal clubs include:
- Journal club topics chosen as a group
- Article is appraised as a group during the session as opposed to only an individual presenting
- Defined roles which rotate between members.
- Each component of the format is based on research evidence
The TREAT journal club format has been investigated in a randomised controlled trial with 125 health professionals and an implementation study with 134 health professionals. We have also learnt key information about what helps sustain TREAT journal clubs, as detailed in Factors that influence the sustainability of structured allied health journal clubs: a qualitative study (nih.gov).
This toolkit consolidates evidence-informed strategies to support research capacity building in allied health. It has been developed as part of the PRO-Allied Health project and is based on the results of a systematic review of existing frameworks for research capacity building.
Wenke R, Stehlik P, Gerrard J, Mickan S, Henry D. Using a journal club to navigate a maze of COVID-19 papers in a front-line hospital service. BMJ Evid Based Med. 2023 Jun;28(3):210-211. doi: 10.1136/bmjebm-2022-112130.
Wenke R, Roberts S, Angus R, Owusu MA, Weir K.(2023) How do I keep this live in my mind?” Allied Health Professionals’ perspectives of barriers and enablers to implementing Good Clinical Practice in research: A qualitative exploration guided by behaviour change theory. BMC Health Services Researc.
Angus, R.L., Hattingh, H.L. & Weir, K.A. (2022) Experiences of hospital allied health professionals in collaborative student research projects: a qualitative study. BMC Health Serv Res 22, 729
Wenke, R., Wiseman, J., Brandenburg, C, Stehlik, P, Hughes, I., Richards, K., Mickan, S (2022) Long term tailored implementation of structured "TREAT" journal clubs in allied health: a hybrid effectiveness-implementation study. BMC Medical Education, 2022. April 22(1): p. 307.
Mickan, S., Wenke, R., Weir, K., Bialocerkowski, A., Noble, C. (2022) Using knowledge brokering activities to promote allied health clinicians’ engagement in research: a qualitative exploration, BMJ Open, 12 (4) e058453
Hilder, J., Mickan, S., Noble, C., Weir, K. & Wenke, R. (2020). Outcomes of a funding initiative to promote allied health research activity: A qualitative realist. Health Research Policy and Systems. Health Research Policy and Systems 18(1)
Wenke, R., Noble, C., Weir, K., Mickan, S. (2020). What influences allied health clinician participation in research in the public hospital setting: A qualitative theory-informed approach. BMJ Open. 10:e036183. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-036183
Matus J, Wenke R, Hughes I, Mickan S, (2019) Evaluation of the research capacity and culture of allied health professionals in a large regional public health service. J Multidiscip Healthcare 14;12:83-96.
Matus, J., Wenke., R., Mickan, S (2019). A practical toolkit of strategies for building research capacity in allied health. Asia Pacific Journal of Health Management 14 (2), 5
Mickan, S., Hilder, J., Wenke, R., & Thomas, R. (2019). The impact of a small-group educational intervention for allied health professionals to enhance evidence-based practice: mixed methods evaluation. 19(1), 131. doi:10.1186/s12909-019-1567-1
Wenke, R., O’Shea, K., Hilder, J., Thomas, R., Mickan, S (2019) Factors that influence the sustainability of structured allied health journal clubs: A qualitative study. BMC Medical Education, Jan 3;19(1):6.