Harnessing the potential of practice-based clinical optometry research in the United Kingdom.
Taylor LJ., Hobby A., Bowen M., Jolly JK., MacLaren RE.
Research is the core of evidence-based practice across all healthcare, in order to ensure optimum patient care. The College of Optometrists is a national standard setting institution for optometric practice in the United Kingdom. However, the standards are only as good as the available evidence, and currently there is little evidence relating directly to optometric practice. The National Institute of Health and Care Research, the General Medical Council and The College of Optometrists, amongst others, have published research strategies describing ambitious plans to expand the scope of healthcare research. The aim of this article is to raise awareness of these government initiatives and consider how they may relate to optometric practice. To improve optometrist research engagement, we need to address the barriers to research and implement strategies to overcome them. There are many opportunities to support research, with different degrees of involvement, from signposting patients to research studies, supporting recruitment or collecting data for a multicentre clinical trial, as well as undertaking an individual research project. Healthcare research is changing and there is scope for more practice-based research activities in optometry. Research should not be a solo endeavour but a multi-disciplinary effort. Greater collaborations across all stakeholders, including primary care, secondary care, academia, regulators and industry is needed to make this possible.