Small steps forward

The Physiotherapy Research Society has been exploring how to improve its diversity and inclusion

Caroline Coulthard
Caroline Coulthard vice chair of the Physiotherapy Research Society

After cancelling our Physiotherapy Research Society 2020 conference in April due to Covid-19, and watching the Black Lives Matter movement unfold, our committee gathered to discuss where we take things forward as a Society. It was natural that this topic came up in discussion. 

We were aware of our responsibility to promote equality and diversity, but realised that we needed to become positive advocates for change. We were looking for new committee members, and managed to increase diversity amongst our own committee which was a great starting point. However, on reflection, we realised that we wanted to better understand the barriers of people of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds involved in research. 

We approached Dana Maki, a senior physiotherapy lecturer with an interest in cross-cultural research; she provided us with some insight into the barriers she encountered, both clinically and in research. Hearing her experience was moving; it allowed me to better understand the barriers faced by researchers of BAME backgrounds. 

I knew of the difficulties in recruiting patients of BAME backgrounds into studies; however I didn’t realise that even when physiotherapy-related research involving people of BAME groups was completed, there were further challenges related to publication bias, peer review, and sharing research findings.

As a Society we need to improve the situation. We plan to promote diverse role models and introduce peer mentoring, with a view to inspire and support future generations of BAME researchers. In doing so we hope this will lead to better and more meaningful research with BAME patient groups. Furthermore, we plan to better understand barriers to research that may be experienced by other minority groups.

As a Society we need to improve the situation.

We realise that these are just small steps forward, but by raising awareness of these issues and exploring solutions, we hope that we can help bring the full breadth of physiotherapy research that exists into the public domain, and overcome the obstacles to this. 

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