Queensland’s Allied Health departments are leading the way in knowledge translation with AH-TRIP (Allied Health-Translating Research into Practice)

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A challenge often faced by clinicians is how to best address complex clinical problems within the health care setting. These problems may look simple at face value, for example, improving mobility amongst older inpatients, but they are often complex, including several components and requiring multiple groups or teams to change their behaviours.

Using a theoretical approach to ensure a solid a foundation, on which to implement and measure practice change can assist clinicians in addressing these complex problems in a sustainable way.

CKN spoke with Sally Barrimore, Allied Health Workforce Development Officer about how Allied Health is tackling this challenge by taking an “AH-TRIP approach”.

AH-TRIP stands for “Allied Health-Translating Research into Practice”. Taking the AH-TRIP approach includes identifying and understanding a clinical problem and the available evidence, implementing a practice change, monitoring outcomes and measuring success. These key principles are underpinned by knowledge translation and implementation science methodology. Allied health clinicians can take the AH-TRIP approach to address complex problems as part of quality improvement and research to bring about practice change in health care settings.

I joined the AH-TRIP movement just over 12 months ago as a Metro North workforce development officer to build awareness, skills, confidence and capacity of Allied Health clinicians working in Metro North to undertake TRIP as part of their routine practice. 

My interest in TRIP has grown over time as I’ve attempted to implement complex health service interventions and reflected on why some things work and others don’t. I’ve studied implementation science and knowledge translation theory and applied the concepts in practice, implementing programs such as the “Eat, Walk, Engage” program, a transdisciplinary Allied Health model of care within the emergency department, a novel multidisciplinary Allied Health assistant role amongst other research and improvement projects. 

Examples of recent TRIP projects

The reality is that rising health expenditure is unsustainable. To ensure the most efficient delivery of healthcare, a key policy priority is to focus the use of resources and align service with evidenced-based practice. Investing in workforce confidence in TRIP is essential to support value-based health care and identifying appropriate disinvestment in low value care.

If Allied Health are expected to implement evidence into practice without the necessary skills, support and resources, there is a risk of implementation failure and reluctance amongst individuals and teams to undertake future translation efforts. AH-TRIP aims to prepare and support clinicians implementing evidence in their practice to maximise their chance of successful implementation. 

Thankfully AH-TRIP is here to stay. In five short years AH-TRIP has grown to be an important part of Allied Health strategy. Starting in 2014, Metro South’s Dr Ingrid Hickman identified a need for clinical dietitians to pursue translational research and launched the ‘My Translation Rules (MTR)’ annual awards to highlight and celebrate TRIP projects within the Princess Alexandra Hospital, Nutrition and Dietetics Department.

Jump to 2019 and AH-TRIP has been embedded in the Queensland Health Allied Health 10 Year Strategy and the Allied Health Research Strategy along with local professional strategic and operational plans. The Allied Health Professions Office of Queensland are sponsors and funders of AH-TRIP, with additional funding provided in Metro North HHS. 

Interest in AH-TRIP continues to snowball across the state - there is an appetite for more! The initiative has grown to be supported by a state-wide group of TRIP experts from Metro North, Metro South, Mater Health Services and the Darling Downs supported by members of AusHSI, EPIC, CAHRLI and AHPOQ. 

In Metro North we have an AH-TRIP champion within almost every Allied Health department across the Health Service; people who have self-nominated to lead and support others to undertake TRIP. There are a further 25 champions in Allied Health departments in Metro South and 35 dietitian champions located across Queensland. 

Excitingly, the AH-TRIP state-wide group has collated and developed an online suite of TRIP resources to support clinicians to bring about sustainable practice change within health care settings. In only a few months, the AH-TRIP online PD suite has been accessed by more than 2,500 people. For readers who are interested in learning more, we recommend that you start with foundation training and build from there. Even better, use our AH-TRIP champion guide to facilitate your team to watch the foundation training webinars together. 

AH-TRIP has been operating in its current form for less than twelve months, and a comprehensive evaluation is currently underway. We have seen successful outcomes from clinicians receiving the earlier iterations of AH-TRIP, including sustained practice change (with increased efficiencies and better patient outcomes), further research and training (including PhDs and specialist knowledge translation training) and research publications and conference presentations. We are excited to see what outcomes AH-TRIP can achieve! 

For more information about AH-TRIP, please visit the website or contact AHTRIP@health.qld.gov.au.

Sally Barrimore, Allied Health Workforce Development, Metro North (AH-TRIP)