Background: It is difficult to foster research utilization among allied health professionals (AHPs). Tailored, multifaceted knowledge translation (KT) strategies are now recommended but are resource intensive to implement. Employers need effective KT solutions but little is known about; the impact and viability of multifaceted KT strategies using an online KT tool, their effectiveness with AHPs and their effect on evidence-based practice (EBP) decision-making behavior. The study aim was to measure the effectiveness of a multifaceted KT intervention including a customized KT tool, to change EBP behavior, knowledge, and attitudes of AHPs.
Methods: This is an evaluator-blinded, cluster randomized controlled trial conducted in an Australian community-based cerebral palsy service. 135 AHPs (physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, psychologists and social workers) from four regions were cluster randomized (n = 4), to either the KT intervention group (n = 73 AHPs) or the control group (n = 62 AHPs), using computer-generated random numbers, concealed in opaque envelopes, by an independent officer. The KT intervention included three-day skills training workshop and multifaceted workplace supports to redress barriers (paid EBP time, mentoring, system changes and access to an online research synthesis tool). Primary outcome (self- and peer-rated EBP behavior) was measured using the Goal Attainment Scale (individual level). Secondary outcomes (knowledge and attitudes) were measured using exams and the Evidence Based Practice Attitude Scale.
Results: The intervention group's primary outcome scores improved relative to the control group, however when clustering was taken into account, the findings were non-significant: self-rated EBP behavior [effect size 4.97 (95% CI -10.47, 20.41) (p = 0.52)]; peer-rated EBP behavior [effect size 5.86 (95% CI -17.77, 29.50) (p = 0.62)]. Statistically significant improvements in EBP knowledge were detected [effect size 2.97 (95% CI 1.97, 3.97 (p < 0.0001)]. Change in EBP attitudes was not statistically significant.
Conclusions: Improvement in EBP behavior was not statistically significant after adjusting for cluster effect, however similar improvements from peer-ratings suggest behaviorally meaningful gains. The large variability in behavior observed between clusters suggests barrier assessments and subsequent KT interventions may need to target subgroups within an organization.
Trial registration: Registered on the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN12611000529943).