Research competencies for undergraduate rehabilitation students: A scoping review

  • M.Y. Charumbira
  • K. Berner
  • Q.A. Louw


Background. Research training is important for all health science professions and interlinks with evidence-based practice (EBP). Previous studies that investigated research competencies for undergraduates predominantly focused on medical and nursing professions.  However, specific competencies may be more relevant to certain professions than others. A set of minimum core research competencies has not been defined for research methods (RM) training in the undergraduate rehabilitation curriculum.
Objectives. To review available evidence and identify a set of research competencies for undergraduate rehabilitation students.
Method. A scoping review was done of studies published between January 2009 and December 2018. Five databases were searched  (November - December 2018). Articles were included if they contained statements referring to knowledge, skills, attitudes and tasks  related to research or researchrelated EBP for rehabilitation undergraduates. Competencies were categorised into 6 research domains using thematic analysis.
Results. Forty-five competencies were identified from research-related statements in 26 studies. No studies explicitly investigated the most important research competencies for rehabilitation. Research competencies were often derived directly from the EBP framework (n=19 studies), resulting in poor representation of competencies related to conducting research. Overall, domains related to research  methodology and inquiry were best represented, while soft skills, dissemination, professional attitudes and ethics were poorly represented.
Conclusion. We identified a set of research competencies that may be important for rehabilitation undergraduates. It remains unclear which of these should be prioritised in the rehabilitation curriculum. However, this preliminary set may guide future consensus statements and allow educators to identify and address gaps in current curricula.


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