Factors influencing pharmacy students’ attitudes towards pharmacy practice research and strategies for promoting research interest in pharmacy practice
Objectives: To (1) investigate the relationships between students’ characteristics and their (a) perceptions of research in general and (b) attitudes towards pharmacy practice research; (2) identify strategies that could be used by pharmacy educators to promote research interest in pharmacy practice; and (3) identify perceived barriers to the pursuit or completion of a pharmacy practice research degree.
Methods: A survey was administered to all students enrolled in each year of the four-year pharmacy undergraduate program, University of Sydney, Australia. Perceptions of research in general were measured using 4 items on a five-point semantic-differential scale and attitudes towards pharmacy practice research were measured using 16 items on a five-point Likert scale. Student characteristics were also collected as were responses to open-ended questions which were analysed using content analysis.
Results: In total 853 students participated and completed the survey (83% response rate). Participants’ characteristics were associated with some but not all aspects of research and pharmacy practice research. It appeared that positive attitudes and perspectives were influenced strongly by exposure to the ‘research’ process through projects, friends or mentors, previous degrees or having future intentions to pursue a research degree. Results from both the quantitative and qualitative analyses suggest positive attitudes and perceptions of research can be nurtured through the formal inclusion in research processes, particularly the utility of practice research in clinical practice across the four years of study. Participants indicated there was a lack of awareness of the needs, benefits and career opportunities associated with pharmacy practice research and voiced clear impediments in their career path with respect to the choice of practice research-related careers.
Conclusions: Future research should investigate changes in perceptions and attitudes in a single cohort over the four-year degree, other factors influencing students’ perceptions and attitudes, and evaluate the effectiveness of research promoting strategies and programs.
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