The BDA is leading the research agenda for the dietetic profession through increasing the capacity for research and encouraging involvement. We aim to achieve a high volume of top-quality research to advance dietetic practice.
The BDA Research Strategy has five components:
1. Research Agenda
2. Research Capacity
3. Involvement in Research
4. High Quality Research
5. Advancement of Dietetic Practice
Research is “the attempt to derive generalisable new knowledge including studies that aim to generate hypotheses as well as studies that aim to test them.” (Health Research Authority 2013). The distinction between research, audit and service evaluation is explained by the Health Research Authority (HRA) in ‘Determining whether your study is research” (HRA 2013).
Research is, by its very nature, dynamic and all aspects of research, including the research agenda, will continue to change and evolve. It is therefore important that the Research Strategy is re-evaluated regularly by the BDA.
It is important to recognise that the components of the Strategy overlap and that making a change to one component will influence others e.g. if capacity is increased hopefully this will result in greater involvement.
It was recognised that to enable the Research Strategy to be effective a culture change is needed within the profession
The research agenda encompasses strategies and priorities established at local, regional, national and international level. Specific research priorities will continue to develop and change.
Influence the local, regional, national and international agendas and be part of their delivery. Involvement in setting agendas at all levels on funding bodies.
Influence the research agenda at all levels. Encourage diversity of research skills (qualitative, quantitative, in vivo, in vitro and educational) within the profession. Facilitate research at a local/regional, national and international level.
It is important to recognise the diversity of dietitian’s interests, experience and skills. While most dietitians are working in vivo some work in vitro and in other laboratory settings.
Building research capacity can be defined as ‘a process of individual and institutional development which leads to higher levels of skills and greater ability to perform useful research’ (Trostle 1992). In the context of the BDA it refers to individual BDA Members and work groups that include BDA members.
Build the research capacity of the profession.
Enable BDA members and work groups to increase their capacity to do high quality research. Assist dietitians with appropriate skills to pursue a research career. Develop the culture of research within the profession. Encourage dietitians to apply for funding for research and training. Develop methods of measuring the quality and quantity of research attributable to the profession.
Building research capacity may include:
- Research culture, environment, and infrastructure
- Partnerships with other disciplines and consumer groups
- Measurement of research capacity
Dietitians should be involved in research throughout their careers as outlined in the BDA’s Knowledge and Skills Framework (2007).
Identification of research needs to improve practice and update skills through the involvement of managers, dietitians, dietetic assistants and students.
Identify knowledge and skills gaps in practice and research. Encourage members to question practice and seek solutions through the research process. Facilitate opportunities for research collaborations within and outside the profession. Develop a framework for collaborations between practitioners and higher education institutions. Facilitate and improve research career pathways. Promote the inclusion of research in job descriptions at all levels of the profession.
High quality research is research that is ethical and complies with governance guidelines and regulations. It will therefore have a clearly defined and relevant research question or purpose, appropriate study design and methodology and result in peer reviewed publication.
Promotion of high quality collaborative* research within the profession
Ensure BDA publications and guidelines are based on high quality peer reviewed research and to ensure that all evidence is graded. Ensure the profession is aware of current and new developments in the regulatory and guidance frameworks for research.
The promotion of high quality research includes:
- Ensuring dietitians have adequate research knowledge and skills
- Encouraging collaboration both with in and outside the profession
- Making opportunities for research funding
- Encouraging diverse patient involvement in research
- Collaborative means working with other dietitians and other professions both within the individual’s organisation and in other organisations as appropriate for the particular research project
Research advances dietetic practice by the utilisation of the evidence base and application of knowledge to improve outcomes and quality of care.* Research should inform and influence all aspects of practice.
Encouragement of regular critical appraisal of the evidence base to update practice. Support the advancement and development of the evidence base. Facilitation of dissemination of emerging evidence amongst the profession and externally*. Generation and utilisation of research to expand the scope of the profession and to promote the credibility of the profession.
Secure protected time to participate in generating or critically appraising research. Encourage the development and maintenance of the necessary skills to facilitate active involvement in research at all levels of the profession (BDA 2007). Facilitate dissemination of emerging research locally, nationally, internationally and across professions, to encourage adaptation of practice in accordance with the evolving evidence base.
*Externally this may include service users (patients and carers), health professionals and the media.