Our Professional Doctorate in Clinical Research (DClinRes) has been designed to meet the challenge of providing high quality clinical research training for Allied Health Professionals (AHPs), including those in leadership roles. It is a unique collaboration between Clinical Education Development and Research ( CEDAR, http://cedar.exeter.ac.uk/programmes/), Psychology and the University of Exeter Medical School.
Delivered by leading academics and practitioners, the programme aims to educate Allied Health Professionals to shift the major focus of their research activities from a tradition characterised by work which is predominantly descriptive, cross-sectional and introspective, to one which is translational, experimental, longitudinal, generalisable and implementation focussed.
The programme includes advanced training in clinical research leadership skills and organisational practice, and is underpinned by the Medical Research Council’s mixed methods Complex Interventions Research Framework. The Doctorate offers participants the opportunity to complete a Service Related Research Project linked to their area of practice allowing them to evaluate their local clinical service. In addition, participants undertake a Major Clinical Research Project related to their area of practice and aligned with the strategic aims within their local service and organisation.
The programme is based on the latest guidance for research which investigates how to develop and determine the components, efficacy, effectiveness, applicability and translational utility of complex healthcare interventions for complex interventions in medicine. It integrates investigative methods for complex interventions through a mixed methodological process of development, feasibility/piloting, evaluation and implementation.
Responding to a challenge
Our Doctorate in Clinical Research has been developed in response to a need, identified by training commissioners and professional organisations, for specific skills training within this area of the healthcare workforce.
Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) such as nurses, physiotherapists, psychologists, radiographers and occupational therapists have a critical role to play in meeting health and social care challenges at the fore of global health concerns. These include an • aging population, • chronic diseases, • and new endemics
AHPs engage in an ever widening range of activities, many of which are highly complex and take place in multiple care environments including acute medicine, chronic care facilities, community and residential care homes. Example activities include patient education programmes, the coordination and delivery of packages of psychosocial care, and support for patient self-care.
Changes in healthcare organisation internationally (e.g. short hospital periods and growing responsibility for patient self-care) are placing more healthcare in the hands of AHPs, increasing the scope and the overall need for an underpinning evidence base.
The relevance of a Complex Interventions Research Framework
The care provided by AHPs to patients is an increasingly complicated activity and can be seen as the quintessential ‘complex intervention’ – defined as an activity that contains a number of component parts with the potential for interactions between them which, when applied to the intended target population, produces a range of possible and variable outcomes (Medical Research Council, 2008).
Complex interventions are widespread throughout all of health and social care, from the apparently simple example of pharmacological treatment with its combination of biochemical, social and psychological factors influencing patient concordance and physiological response, to more obviously complex educational or psychological interventions where a multi-layered set of dynamic features have great bearing on ultimate effectiveness.
Our programmes are underpinned by the Medical Research Council’s mixed methods Complex Interventions Research Framework, which emphasises our commitment to applied research in a healthcare context.
Our Doctorate in Clinical Research is run part-time over four years. The taught component of the programme has been re-structured to better enable both national and international attendance. The course commences with a 5 day block of teaching in February, with the remaining pre-thesis teaching components taking place over the next 18 months in smaller block delivery. Please see the website for up to date information at http://cedar.exeter.ac.uk/programmes/dclinres/structure/.