Background Palliative Medicine has rapidly grown but the volume of research currently remains behind other medical specialties in the UK. A 1997 survey of UK Palliative Medicine trainees identified they were highly motivated and interested in research. However, specialty trainees (StRs) have reported variable access to research opportunities by region of practice. This survey aimed to explore research interest, opportunities and barriers to research for UK StRs.
Methods Online Surveys software was used to design two surveys; one for Training Programme Directors (TPDs) & one for StRs. The Association of Palliative Medicine Science Committee (SAC) reviewed both surveys and then emailed the survey link to all UK TPDs with a request to cascade the StR survey within their region.
Results TPDs responded from 14/16 (88%) postgraduate training regions. 102/225 (45%) of UK StRs responded, representing all training regions. 13 (6%) of StR participants reported having research time through clinical academic/research fellow posts or time out of training. 92% (94/102) of StRs reported being interested in research with 20% (22/102) completing a postgraduate qualification including research. The main barriers identified were limited research supervision and time. Although 49% (n=50) of StRs reported having access to a supervisor supportive of research, only 34% (n=35) stated they had access to a supervisor with research experience. The amount of research time varied greatly, from StRs reported no dedicated research time (60%, n=61) up to a maximum of 8 months during training. Although the majority had opportunities to access journal clubs (76%, n=77) or research meetings (56%, n=57) many trainees (42%, n=42) still reported mainly doing research in their own time.
Conclusion Palliative care delivers complex questions that warrant quality research. This survey identifies variability in adequate support and opportunities for StRs to facilitate research. Improving research capability and capacity in training is therefore imperative.
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