Barriers to translational research in Windsor Ontario: a survey of clinical care providers and health researchers

J Transl Med. 2021 Nov 27;19(1):479. doi: 10.1186/s12967-021-03097-6.


Background: Translational research is an ideology focussed on streamlining the transition of novel research into clinical practice to ultimately benefit populations. Central to this approach is overcoming barriers to research involvement and interdisciplinary collaboration. Identifying barriers has been the subject of several studies focused on communities with large academic hospitals. The Windsor-Essex region is currently built around community hospitals which have less of an emphasis on research, employ fewer physicians holding academic appointments and generally do not provide incentivised time for research and training. In this study, we surveyed clinicians and researchers working in Windsor-Essex to gain insight into barriers to translational research important to those working in smaller sized, community-based research networks.

Methods: Using an anonymous close-ended Qualtrics survey distributed via email, we surveyed faculty members from The University of Windsor and clinical care providers from Windsor-Essex (n = 68). This included 24 physicians, 14 allied health professionals, and 30 non-clinician researchers.

Results: Managing competing interests, lack of time, funding, infrastructure, and networks were identified by greater than 75% of participants as barriers to research involvement. 62% of physicians identified the lack of permanent post-graduate medical trainees as a barrier. Clinicians were consistently less experienced in research skills compared to others; particularly in publishing results and applying for funding (p < 0.001). Schedule incompatibility, funding issues and identifying interested collaborators with overlapping interests were identified as barriers to interdisciplinary collaboration by 80% of participants. Moreover, 46% of those surveyed were unhappy with their research involvement and these individuals were 13% more likely to perceive research as important for their career progression (p = 0.244).

Conclusions: This study identifies several important barriers to translational research in Windsor-Essex and suggests that many motivated researchers are unhappy with their current involvement. These results will inform decision making in the research community of Windsor-Essex and provides insight for communities of similar size and research capacity. Ultimately, enabling the translation of clinical research in all communities is required to ensure equitable access to cutting edge care.

Keywords: Barriers; Interdisciplinary collaboration; Research participation; Translational research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Ontario
  • Research Personnel*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Translational Research, Biomedical*

Grants and funding