Skip navigation

Characterising the research profile of UK critical care physiotherapists

Dr Bronwen Connolly discusses some of her current work regarding the research activity of Critical Care Physiotherapists, and her role within the NIHR Critical Care Speciality Group.

Characterising the research profile of UK critical care physiotherapists

Being research-aware and research-active are becoming increasingly important in our goal to provide evidence-based clinical practice of the highest quality to our patients, none less so than in the field of critical care where national guidelines and recommendations have driven an exponential rise in activities evaluating and developing services and potential new interventions.

In this blog, I want to share two pieces of work I am currently undertaking in my role as Physiotherapy Representative on the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Critical Care Specialty Group (SG)…..and more importantly, ask for your engagement!

As background, the SG sits within the NIHR Clinical Research Network which is responsible for providing the infrastructure to support research delivery within the NHS. The remit of the Critical Care SG is to oversee this in relation to critical care research across the UK.

Representation from Physiotherapy, as well as from Nursing and other Allied Health Professions, is relatively recent but highly valued within the SG. I feel this is a significant opportunity to raise awareness of the potential contribution of physiotherapy to critical care research….but also to gain insight and understanding into the operational aspects of critical care research delivery.

Project Number 1

A national survey to characterise the research training profile of UK critical care physiotherapists. This survey is designed for completion by all critical care physiotherapists, regardless of research experience or grade, to help inform our understanding of this subject. In particular the survey will collect data on postgraduate research qualifications, research experience, resources to enhance research skills and training, and perceived barriers to engagement with research.


More and more critical care physiotherapists are completing postgraduate degrees at both Master’s and PhD level, including accessing research-specific programmes via funding pathways from the National Institute of Health Research ( or other equivalent schemes in the devolved nations. However these data can be difficult to quantify - membership to professional speciality organisations such as the ACPRC is non-mandatory, nor is information related to higher degrees a prerequisite for joining or routinely collected during the membership process.

But identifying those clinicians with specific research training, and establishing their level of skill and experience could be of significant value in harnessing the capacity and capability within our workforce.

It’s also vitally important that we consider what the knowledge gap and training needs might be for those clinicians who may not have had previous research exposure and indeed, would like to gain experience but not necessarily complete accredited programmes of study.


This is an online survey, which has just launched and is available at

The survey will be open for the next 3 months during which time I will be promoting via all possible routes, to encourage as many clinicians to complete as possible so we can capture as much information as possible about the critical care physiotherapy workforce.


This is my first of many pleas to ask you and your colleagues to access the survey and complete – it takes less than 10mins!! And please circulate as widely as you can via all local and national networks, forums and social media.....

Project Number 2

Involves creating a UK critical care physiotherapy database for research purposes.


I will be attempting to identify and contact all Critical Care team leads to request their details to be kept on a secure database stored on the NIHR Critical Care SG Portal. This database would be for contact purposes only to facilitate access for conduct of various research studies; inclusion of contact details on this database would not commit any individual clinician from participation in any study. This project will be undertaken in partnership with the ACPRC.


If you are the senior critical care physio within your team, please get in touch on my email below and I will send you a specific information sheet regarding this.

Thanks so much in advance for your involvement in these two projects, and I look forward to feeding back on their progression and outcome.


Dr Bronwen Connolly

Consultant Clinical Research Physiotherapist,

Critical Care NIHR Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Guy’s and St.Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust