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Developing capacity

Research capacity, knowledge, skills and use in councils with adult social care responsibilities

Purpose

The study aimed to: 1) Map research capacity in local authorities; 2) Explore the infrastructure for research in local authorities; and 3) Examine the impact or potential impact of Public Health joining Local Authorities.

Timescale

2014

Research team

Martin Stevens (SCWRU), Chris Rainey (Independent researcher) and John Woolham (Coventry University)

Funding

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Social Care Research

Background

Research capacity in local authorities appears to have reduced and changed its focus. However, Research Governance and increased emphasis on evidence informed practice have created a need for staff with research skills. The study sought evidence about the level of skill and numbers of staff involved in research and research-like activity in local authorities.

Methods

An online survey was developed and sent to all English local authority research contacts, a list of Research Governance leads and 150 Directors of Public Health. Data were analysed using frequencies and crosstabulations.

Findings

The study found low levels of capacity in terms of staff numbers, but a commitment to evidence informed practice. Research Governance arrangements were patchy, with only 39% of respondents reporting local systems in place. Participants felt that while research had become more important, reductions in local authority funding had particularly affected the capacity to undertake this work.

Final report

Rainey, C., Woolham, J. and Stevens, M. (2015) 'Research capacity, knowledge, skills and use in Councils with Adult Social Care Responsibilities', London: London School of Economics.

A presentation was made to the Local Authorities Research and Intelligence Association conference in 2014.

Impact

The survey will be of value to local authority managers and staff in planning research-like activity and will help promote the development of Research Governance.

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