Barriers and facilitators of clinician and researcher collaborations: a qualitative study.

05 Dec 2020
Williams J, Craig TJ, Robson D

Background: The poor translation of research findings into routine clinical practice is common in all areas of healthcare. Having a better understanding of how researchers and clinicians experience engagement in and with research, their working relationships and expectations of each other, may be one way to help to facilitate collaborative partnerships and therefore increase successful translation of research into clinical practice.

Aims: To explore the views of clinical and research staff about their experiences of working together during research projects and identify the facilitators and barriers.

Methods: We conducted four focus groups with 18 participants - clinicians, researchers and those with a dual clinical-research role, recruited from one mental health Trust and one university. Data was analysed using thematic analysis.

Results: Eight themes were identified under the headings of two research questions 1) Barriers and facilitators of either engaging in or with research from the perspective of clinical staff, with themes of understanding the benefits of the research; perceived knowledge and personal qualities of researchers; lack of time and organisational support to be involved in and implement research; and lack of feedback about progress and outcome of research. 2) Barriers and facilitators for engaging with clinicians when conducting research, from the perspective of researchers, with themes of understanding what clinicians need to know and how they need to feel to engage with research; demonstrating an understanding of the clinician’s world; navigating through the clinical world; and demands of the researcher role.

Conclusion: There was agreement between clinicians and researchers about the barriers and facilitators for engaging clinicians in research. Both groups identified that it was the researcher’s responsibility to form and maintain good working relationships. Better support for researchers in their role calls for training in communication skills and bespoke training to understand the local context in which research is taking place.