A clean bill of health

February 3, 1995

Roger Ellis's contribution on physiotherapy and occupational therapy seemed to confuse two different issues.

One is the "status of the professions allied to medicine", for which many remedial therapists and their allies welcome recognised degree qualifications and a growing capacity to reflect critically on their practice in delivering care. Clearly, leadership from role models in each therapy profession will strengthen the new academic departments.

However, this is not the same issue as "developing a research base" and does not assume the parallel "development to masters and doctoral levels" of degrees in OT or physiotherapy. Postgraduate research needs specialist supervisors, peers, mentors and facilities if it is to achieve substantial development and evaluation of new approaches to care. An area of patient need which is addressed by a multi-proessional masters focusing on, say, rehabilitation science, primary care research, health policy or health education is much more likely to "draw on an active research tradition" in a creative way than some masters generated by a short-term professional agenda.

In The Health of the UK's Elderly People, the MRC recently found: "Research in rehabilitation is complex because of its multilevelled and heterogeneous nature. The multiple facets of care and the variation in different models of care which may be provided exacerbate this further." Future PhDs in physiotherapy or occupational therapy might not address this complexity, whereas remedial therapists who undertake substantial research into active areas of NHS need may mine a much deeper seam yielding richer trophies.

WOODY CAAN

Head of R & D,

Lifespan Healthcare,

Cambridge

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