Taking the pulse of the health services research community: a cross-sectional survey of research impact, barriers and support

This study reporting on the characteristics of individuals conducting health service research (HSR) in Australia and New Zealand, the perceived accessibility of resources for HSR, the self-reported impact of HSR projects and perceived barriers to conducting HSR has just been published in Australian Health Review https://doi.org/10.1071/AH18213.

In all, 424 researchers participated in the study (22% response rate). Respondents held roles as health service researchers (76%), educators (34%) and health professionals (19%). Most were employed by a university (64%), and 57% held a permanent contract. Although 63% reported network support for HSR, smaller proportions reported executive (48%) or financial (26%) support. The least accessible resources were economists (52%), consumers (49%) and practice change experts (34%); researchers affiliated with health services were less likely to report access to tatisticians (P < 0.001), economists (P < 0.001), librarians (P = 0.02) and practice change experts (P = 0.02) than university-affiliated researchers. Common impacts included conference presentations (94%), publication of peer-reviewed articles (87%) and health professional benefits (77%). Qualitative data emphasised barriers such as embedding research culture within services and engaging with policy makers.

Despite a vibrant and experienced HSR community, this study highlights some key barriers to realising a greater effect on the health and well-being of Australian and New Zealand communities through HSR. These barriers include limited financial resources, methodological expertise, organisational support and opportunities to engage with potential collaborators.