Musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions are the largest contributor to the burden of disability in the UK, but uptake of evidence by manual therapists who see patients with these conditions remains limited. Policy makers in government and professional bodies, as well as patient representatives, expect these professions to demonstrate evidence-informed practice. However, tight budgetary constraints, diverse working practices, and the complexity of primary care make it challenging to improve the uptake of evidence in these professions.

This demands innovative solutions in the production and dissemination of research evidence to reduce this well-recognised "research-to-practice gap" and to streamline the research-to-practice pipeline. To do this we propose a PhD project to:

  1. Explore, through reviewing the literature, clinician beliefs and attitudes towards evidence to understand barriers and enhancers to receipt and application of information (scoping review).
  2. Explore new and novel ways of encouraging the adoption of evidence informed practice in particular reference to behaviour change theories (scoping review).
  3. Develop IT solutions (including machine learning approaches) to target and source information relevant to osteopathic practice and care.
  4. Based on 1) and 2) develop and devise materials and strategies suited to, and acceptable for, dissemination and uptake by clinicians (feasibility study).
  5. Evaluate, with a sample of osteopaths: receipt and application to practice and impact on patient care (prospective cohort study).

This project has the following aims:

  1. to understand the value that manual therapists and their patients place on priority research topics;
  2. to design, implement and evaluate a programme to increase this perceived value through dissemination via peer advocates;
  3. to overcome bottlenecks in the discovery of relevant research and production of evidence synopses that are agreeable to clinicians.

Ultimately, this will streamline the research-to-practice pipeline and increase the evidential component in interventions delivered by manual therapists, thereby improving patient care and patient perceived benefit.

This project will establish a growing database of evidence synopses on priority clinical topics, and a network of evidence advocates within the osteopathic profession.

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