A process of prioritising research needs

A preliminary project in collaboration with Te Whatu Ora has identified occupational therapy research priorities for Waikato.

Health research should address the health needs of all New Zealanders, with a special focus on the greatest needs and addressing inequities. And ideally, health research should not be undertaken in the isolation of an academic environment, but in collaboration with clinicians and with health service users. The Health Research Council funded a recent project to determine research priorities for delivery of occupational therapy services in the Waikato area.

The project team included Ema Tokolahi, an Otago Polytechnic Principal Lecturer in Occupational Therapy, and occupational therapists in Hamilton. They engaged with three Waikato stakeholder groups: kaiwhakaora ngangahau (occupational therapists); professionals working alongside them; and those who have accessed their services. There were four stages to this research project:

  1. Consulting stakeholders. Stakeholders were asked pātai (questions) such as "what are the most important unanswered questions about whakaora ngangahau | occupational therapy healthcare delivery in the Waikato?" and “what do we need to know in order for whakaora ngangahau | occupational therapy healthcare delivery to achieve equitable outcomes for Māori in the Waikato?”. The 149 responses, 22% of which were from Māori, together generated just over 300 pātai.
  2. Analysis: The team condensed and themed the 300+ pātai, and undertook brief literature searches, in order to generate a more manageable list of 30 pātai. These were tentatively grouped into three themes, or clusters, reflecting: clinical practice, Te Tiriti o Waitangi responsiveness, and development of the profession.
  3. Prioritisation: The 30 pātai were circulated to the three groups of stakeholders via an online survey, for ranking in order of importance. Of the 51 responses received, 14% were from Māori.
  4. Confirmation hui: Stakeholders were invited to participate in a hui kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face), in which the data from the previous two rounds were presented, discussed and a consensus negotiated. Nine stakeholders and five researchers participated in this hui, five of whom (36%) identified as Māori.

A list of the top 14 rangahau priorities for Whakaora Ngangahau Occupational Therapy in Waikato has been determined. The team intends to undertake further research to address the identified priorities. 

June 2023

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