Thursday, 12 July 2018

Brag and steal: Sharing stories of research and EBP at the RCSLT Research Champions workshop 2018

Thank you to Katie Chadd (@Katie_Chadd) for producing the latest ResNetSLT blog post.

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists have an established network of SLTs who are committed to striving "to ensure that speech and language therapy is an evidence-based, research-active profession, bringing together research and clinical practice" which is achieved by working in partnership with the RCSLT and wider research networks.

The network celebrated its increase in strength and numbers (now 273 SLTs) and the remarkable achievements of our therapists at a workshop held in London in July.

Two core aims of the day were to provide therapists with the opportunity to:
  • Share good practice initiatives to support evidence based practice
  • Develop contacts within the network to support research and development work
The format of the day varied and we incorporated presentations, a panel session, group activities, invited guest speakers, lightning talks, a poster exhibition, and practical workshops.

The attendees consisted of therapists working for the NHS with a range of experience, those in independent practice, school based SLTs, researchers, lecturers and clinical academics.

The core learning points of the day were:
  • Network, network, network! - Having support from a number of individuals in invaluable in pursuing your interests in EBP and research. Collaborations can be successful on-the-ground (e.g. encouraging colleagues to contribute to a practice-based research project) and highly important in securing fellowships (e.g. getting on to the NIHR clinical academic pathway).
  • Make it routine- exploring and applying evidence and other research activities should be part of your clinical routine and be 'normalised' in your job role. Conversations can be had to build it into your CPD plan and schedule- it is possible!
  • Persevere - obtaining a balance in clinical and research work is difficult, and you will inevitably face challenges but pushing through them can lead to fantastic results. Some approaches to dealing with these could be- reward incentives, regular feedback on successes to those who may be opposing, and opening up communication with MDT and senior colleagues.
  • Listen - a core part of taking an evidence based approach is hearing other’s perspectives, whether this is regarding the basis of clinical intervention, or a research project. The patient or service user or participant perspective is crucial and must remain at the heart of your decisions. A successful EBP approach involves asking and not making assumptions.
Research champions tweeted lots of nuggets of advice throughout the day - you can search the hashtag #ResearchChampions2018 to find out more, and also see tweets from our main research twitter feed @RCSLTResearch.

RCSLT members will also be able to view the content from the day on the website in due course, and if you would like to find out more about becoming a research champion view the Research Centre page here.

Open access useful resources and papers mentioned during the day

Claire and Annette's blog on Evidently Cochrane: Research is better together.

Bornbaum, C. C. et al. (2015). Exploring the function and effectiveness of knowledge brokers as facilitators of knowledge translation in health-related settings: a systematic review and thematic analysis. Implementation Science, 10, 162.

Support network @ClinAcSLT.

Strategy for Clinical Research Careers for Non-Medical Professions by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Tweetchat: Using Twitter for education - Beneficial or simply a waste of time?

The sixth #ResNetSLT Tweetchat of 2018 took place on Wednesday, 27th June.

The chat was hosted by Sophie Chalmers (@SChalmersSLT) and Chiara Vivaldi (@VivaldiC) and was based around this paper: 'Using Twitter for education: Beneficial or simply a waste of time?'

Please click here to view the pre-chat overview and questions.

We had 24 people actively tweeting and using our hashtag #ResNetSLT, with many others also watching and retweeting the conversations. There were 190 tweets in total during the hour, with a 'reach' to over 139,817 linked Twitter accounts. It was fantastic to see people interacting in the conversation from across the globe!

The debate included students, educators, supervisors, university lecturers and clinicians - the one thing everyone agreed on was that no matter the stage of your career, Twitter is great for accessing information, resources and networking across specialisms and geographies.

We had great examples of students actively networking with professionals outside of the topics taught in their course and experiencing application of course content in clinical settings. Additionally, qualified SLTs also used Twitter to follow conferences, collaborate with clinicians, expand existing knowledge and keep 'up-to-date'.
We also heard from educators who are encouraging their students to use Twitter by hash-tagging resources and pointing students to relevant Twitter handles, which is one way of getting around a problem that kept being mentioned – "how do you know who to follow?"

The main message being the importance of keeping your "critical thinking hats" on when using Twitter and the need to explicitly discuss benefits/limitations/considerations of social media so students can make informed choices about engagement.

There was also examples of 'formal' uses of Twitter within a Masters course that required a Twitter account and active Twitter use as criteria for pass/fail. Additionally, in Germany students are engaging with a Twitter journal club specifically linked to a university module.

The main downsides discussed related to diversity and safety. How do you stop Twitter becoming an "echo chamber" given that not everyone wants to be involved in Twitter? There is also a question around the appropriateness of using a public forum for assessment and reflection, and the need to factor in individual's learning styles as a public platform may not always be suitable.

Finally, there was a concern raised around work-life or study-life balance – if you can access learning 24/7 it may make it difficult to 'switch off'.

Our final discussion related to the use of other social medial platforms for educational purposes, with Facebook being an example to share resources, and online static platforms preferred for directly accessing resources or more in depth discussions.

It seems that Twitter was particularly unique in its appeal of its 'conversational' feel, perhaps a closed Twitter-type platform as mentioned by one individual is one possible approach?

Our Twitter chat ended with 96% of people voting that Twitter for education is 'beneficial'.
You can find the link to the full transcript here and our Twitter stats here.

Save the date in your diary now for our next chat on Wednesday, 25th July (7.30pm GMT), and join the discussion on the International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (IDDSI).

Friday, 8 June 2018

Clinical academic networks

Thank you to Katherine Broomfield (@KathBroomfield) for producing the latest ResNetSLT blog post.

As a speech and language therapist I accessed networks that were directly related to my clinical area. I joined special interest groups/clinical excellence networks and attended meetings to access shared learning and information which informed my clinical practice.

With regards to broader networks, I couldn't really understand how people outside my organisation or specialism would be able to help me within my role as a speech and language therapist.

When I started my PhD in April 2017, and living 200 miles away from my University, I realised I would need support that I couldn’t access in my local, rural environment. I started scouting about for sources of support on the internet and I found other clinical academics were discussing their research, clinical interests and wider concerns via social media.

I wanted to join in, but I wasn't really sure how to start. I lurked, liked, commented and finally found the confidence to join in the Tweetchats hosted by ResNetSLT.

Inspired by the people I was connecting with in my new virtual-networks, I became more engaged on Twitter and started writing a blog. I was delighted when my blog post about clinical academic careers ignited an impassioned conversation on Twitter, and was honoured to be at the inception of @ClinAcSLT – a Twitter network for speech and language therapists (SLTs) who want to pursue a clinical academic career.

At the beginning of April, a few SLTs who had been part of that twitter conversation, and who are engaged some form of clinical-academic activity, met at the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) in London to discuss how this new network could address some of the issues and concerns raised during the Twitter chat.

The @ClinAcSLT meeting consisted of SLTs with a variety of clinical and academic experience. As a group, we were keen that any new network should complement those already in existence. ResNetSLT, established by Dr Hazel Roddam, is primarily an online forum offering free access to research news, viewpoints and resources.

An action group now runs the monthly Twitter discussion forum for exchange of perspectives between individuals at different stages of their career, with the aim of supporting clinicians in evidence-based practice. The Twitter group has engaged with an international audience and with clinicians from a range disciplines.

The RCSLT Research Champions network (RCSLT members only) represents a range of SLTs from those who are research-interested clinicians to professors with established research portfolios. The aim of this network is to help SLTs find training and to provide a mechanism for cascading research information from the RCSLT research centre to its members.

Fellow Blogger, SLT and NIHR research fellow Anna Volkmer talked about local, university-based networks, such as the Research Generator Workshop at University College London, that aim to support clinicians who have ideas for research projects and who want to identify next-steps.

As a group we identified some of the funding bodies and pathways that can enable clinicians to engage in research such as the NIHR, MRC and charities such as the Stroke Association. Representation can be an issue within these organisations however.

The NIHR does not yet have an SLT advocate who could support SLTs to access their clinical academic pathways. Most of the large research-funders are health-focused which can make it difficult for SLTs working with children or in education to access grants.

Despite some progress being made in the development of training pathways for allied health professionals there are still very few posts that span academic and health organisations, i.e. truly clinical-academic roles.

We identified that a Clinical Academic CEN (clinical excellence network, supported by the RCSLT) could help to address some of these issues by sharing the collective wisdom and achievements of existing clinical academics with a view to developing an infrastructure that will help others in future.

Regular meetings could provide a forum for SLTs to explore funding pathways, provide face to face mentoring and support individuals to develop research ideas. The network could also be part of a strategic drive to formalise a clinical academic career structure for SLTs.

There are networks developing in other countries, such as #DrSLP in Australia, who are encountering (and trying to counter) the same hurdles as us. We discussed how we could reach out to these networks to learn from one another. The main action following the meeting was to share the discussion and Clinical Academic CEN plans via our networks.

We aim to present @ClinAcSLT at the RCSLT Research Champions meeting in July and will use the blogosphere to link our collective audiences to this post and other related resources. Check out Anna Volkmer’s blog about the inception of @ClinAcSLT.

We will use Twitter to get some feedback on our final proposal and use social media to collect stories from people at various stages of their clinical-academic careers so we can learn from their experiences.

If you have any thoughts about whether a CEN would be a valuable addition to the networks that exist to support SLTs interested in research, do get in touch.

(This post was adapted from one which first appeared on Katherine’s blog in May 2018).

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Tweetchat: A cross sectional observational study of research activity of allied health teams - Is there a link with self-reported success, motivators and barriers to undertaking research?

The fifth #ResNetSLT Tweetchat of 2018 took place on Wednesday, 30th May.

The chat was hosted by Elicia Jones (@EllieJSLT) and Victoria Wadsworth (@victoriawad) and was based around this paper: 'A cross sectional observational study of research activity of allied health teams: is there a link with self-reported success, motivators and barriers to undertaking research?'

It was a busy hour with 30 participants joining in and sharing their ideas and experiences of research activities within and as part of teams. Participants presented with a wide range of roles, including those completing research as clinical practitioners and those whose job roles are based in academia and research.

Also, those who had 'some' dedicated time to pursue research and/or were provided with back-fill and those who were working without any ring-fenced allocated 'time' for research. It was great to see so many people engaged in the discussion and from various locations around the world!

Key themes from participants that cropped up throughout the chat around challenges in completing research as a team echoed those cited in the research article and included:
  • Time
  • Confidence in completing research
  • Lack of skills (within the team)
  • Lack of structure or support for completing research (especially from senior leadership team who make decisions on things)
There was some great sharing of ideas and experiences on how some of these challenges have been managed and how motivation has been sustained to complete research within teams.

This included: involving the whole SLT team in the research project, creating a supportive culture for research, acknowledging the need for time to complete and discuss research, working to a deadline and some 'friendly competition' from other research teams, staying in touch with graduates once they've left university, starting with the small stuff in research (e.g. setting up a journal club), find a mentor or someone who is 'one step' ahead in the research journey and demonstrate the impact of what you're researching on you as a clinician.

Most participants who took part in the Tweetchat presented as being motivated to complete research irrespective of the circumstances in which they were doing it, e.g. with or without dedicated time and support, though the extent of this may vary such as setting up journal clubs versus being involved in team or Trust wide projects.

This reflected a key message in the research paper – that intrinsic factors present as being the strongest motivating factors on whether individuals become involved in research and the influence this has on whether a workforce team does too.

However, the fourth and final question highlighted how 62% of participants felt that barriers to conducting clinical research in the workplace outweighed the motivating factors and thus potentially inhibiting AHPs from undertaking research in the workplace. This statistic indicates how there are still improvements that need to be made to support those wanting to undertake research in a clinical role.

If you're registered with RCSLT and you're interested in finding a Research Champion or mentor that might be able to help to support research developments individually or as part of a team then you can access lots of supporting resources on their website.

Here are a few of our favourite tweets of the night – and our Vote result:


To view the full transcript from the Tweetchat please click here.

Please keep the conversation going by sharing links to any other relevant papers and online resources that everyone can access.

You can post a comment here, email HRoddam@uclan.ac.uk or tweet @ReSNetSLT.

Here' s one paper you might like to look at next: Jo Cooke, Susan Nancarrow, Jane Dyas and Martin Williams An evaluation of the 'Designated Research Team' approach to building research capacity in primary care. BMC Family Practice 2008, 9:37 doi:10.1186/1471-2296-9-37.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

ResNetSLT presentations at 10th European Congress of Speech and Language Therapy

Our #ResNetSLT workshop on 12th May attracted a packed room of approximately 60 delegates from many different countries.

The show of hands indicated a high number of student SLTs (#SLT2B) in the audience, together with educators, clinical practitioners and researchers.

Please click here to access a copy of the presentation slides that include links for other relevant resources and recommendations for many names to follow on Twitter.

We briefly explained how the #ResNetSLT Twitter journal club runs, and that a German version has been launched. We heard about plans for a new journal club on Twitter between Netherlands and Sweden, and #ResNetSLT offered some advice and assistance based on our experience over the past two years.

It was great to hear that SLT students and practitioners are increasingly using Twitter in many languages to share research and professional discussions – as well as other social media platforms.

For anyone interested in getting started on Twitter for the first time, or for helpful hints on making the most of using Twitter to network with professional colleagues, we highly recommend the WeCommunities site.

Thanks to everyone who attended this workshop – we collected lots of new Twitter names and will add them to our contacts list on this blogsite very soon.

You'll also want to look at the slides from the oral paper presented by Professor Bronwyn Hemsley and Dr Hazel Roddam on 11th May - 'Using Twitter to Find Credible Sources and Build Research Communities: the #ResnetSLT Community'.

#ResNetSLT tweets were captured using SPREDFAST and the analysis comprised frequency counts plus content coding. This demonstrated the growth of activity over time and indicated the nature of our tweetchat discussions includes predominantly:
  • Building an identity as a researcher or clinician-researcher
  • Research cultures, training, and funding
  • Benefits and limitations of using Twitter for finding credible sources and research-themed discussions
Many thanks to Bronwyn (@BronwynHemsley) for working with us on this analysis – and for her ongoing support to #ReSNetSLT.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Why get involved in research whilst studying?

Thank you to Chiara Vivaldi (@VivaldiC) for producing the latest ResNetSLT blog post.

As a full-time speech and language therapy student I know there are a million and one things to stay on top of (and I'm doing the undergraduate course, I can't imagine what it's like for Masters students!)

So why would you want to add getting involved in research to the list?

In my case, one reason I have chosen speech and language therapy as a career is the possibility of combining clinical and academic practice, of placing yourself at the exciting and complicated juncture where academic research meets clinical practice.

I've been involved in two research projects so far, which have each required only a relatively little of my time. On the practical side, being involved has honed my assessment scoring skills (never a bad skill to practice), and given me a sense of the logistics of running a research project. The research academics have always been more than willing to answer any questions.

On a more personal level, I've found it really motivating and exciting to be there when the outcome data was collated for the first time, and glimpsing the potential difference this study could make to people's lives, and the avenues it opens for future research and clinical practice.

Now I’m aware that not all intervention studies result in improved outcomes, but that doesn’t take away from the excitement of being involved in a process that collaboratively and accumulatively leads to better outcomes.

The result is that I've signed myself up to volunteer for another research project next year, and this time I'll be the one doing the assessments. I hope I've convinced some of you to dip your toe into research too!

Monday, 30 April 2018

Tweetchat: An introduction to implementation science for the non-specialist



The fourth #ResNetSLT Tweetchat of 2018 took place on Wednesday, 25th April.

The chat was hosted by Amy Hilton (@AmySlt) and Sally Morgan (@sallymorganslt) and was based around this paper: 'An introduction to implementation science for the non-specialist'. The pre-chat overview and questions can be viewed here.

The Tweetchat was very fast-paced, with many threads of conversations occurring simultaneously with representation from SLT students, SLTs at different careers stages, as well as those working in research, and participants from other countries.

The average number of tweets was the highest number so far this year, potentially indicating the level of interest and engagement in the topic. Our Twitter 'impressions' were again over 300,000, with continued reach evident across the world, including an Australian contingent the following day.

It seemed those with a research background were familiar with the term 'implementation science' as a minimum. However, those with a predominantly clinical backgrounds, and students, had not necessarily heard of implementation science before reading this article.

There was much discussion of barriers to implementing evidence based practice with the factors of time and resources, a prominent theme. There was also a discussion of the potential need for culture and policy level changes and challenge to thinking that new things are 'scary'.

There were some nice examples of people trying to use EBP in practice, and the recognition that implementation science could help in achieving this.

There was plenty of sharing of resources during the chat, both of articles related to implementation science, and of wider reading plus the recommendation of a new hashtag to follow for those interested in this area #ImpSci.

Here are a few of our favourite tweets of the night:





The final question helped to summarise the Tweetchat, and provided ideas of one action participants were going to take following the discussion.

Have you read the article or did you take part in the chat? Have you implemented your plan?

For some it was to read and reflect further, so please click here to take a look at various additional resources, many shared on the night.

You can find the link to the full transcript here and our Twitter stats here.

And of course, please save the date in your diary now for our next chat on Wednesday, 25th May (7.30pm), with Elicia Jones (@EllieJSLT) and Victoria Wadsworth (@victoriawad) hosting.

The discussion will be based on research activity of allied health teams.