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Developing UK Defence Rehabilitation research priorities: a 2020 clinical practitioner engagement exercise
  1. Russell J Coppack1,2,
  2. P Ladlow1,3 and
  3. A N Bennett1,4
  1. 1Academic Department of Military Rehabilitation, Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC) Stanford Hall, Loughborough, UK
  2. 2Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis Research Versus Arthritis, Department for Health, University of Bath, Bath, UK
  3. 3Department for Health, University of Bath, Bath, UK
  4. 4National Heart and Lung Institute, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to GpCapt A N Bennett, Academic Department of Military Rehabilitation, Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC) Stanford Hall, Loughborough LE12 5QW, UK; Alexander.Bennett485{at}


Introduction Establishing research priorities help to address knowledge gaps and exploit emerging opportunities to develop a clinical evidence base. The previous clinical engagement exercise to determine UK Defence Rehabilitation practitioner-based research priorities was conducted in 2014. The aim of this article is to (1) describe how research priorities are established for UK Defence Rehabilitation; (2) review, reassess and rate the priorities highlighted and set by rehabilitation practitioners following the 2014 survey and (3) identify new rehabilitation research themes and topics reflecting 2020 priorities.

Methods Stage 1: delegates (n=72) at the October 2019 Defence Medical Services Rehabilitation Conference participated in a series of focus group workshops. Stage 2: an online survey circulated through the military chain of command to all Defence Primary Health Care clinical rehabilitation staff. Stage 3: a thematic analysis of all survey submissions yielding a ranked order of priority by topic.

Results 165 clinical rehabilitation staff completed an online survey. ‘Rehabilitation outcomes’, ‘Psychological factors in rehabilitation’ and ‘Residential/Inpatient treatment paradigm’ emerged as three clear research priorities across all three tiers of UK Defence Rehabilitation. New research priorities emerging from the 2020 survey were ‘lifestyle factors during rehabilitation’, ‘management of pain during rehabilitation’ and ‘anterior knee pain’.

Conclusion It is essential that funding directed to musculoskeletal rehabilitation focuses on the highest research priorities in the field to ensure optimum health return on investment. The results of this survey will assist in guiding the clinical research being conducted within UK Defence Rehabilitation over the next five years.

  • rehabilitation medicine
  • sports medicine
  • orthopaedic sports trauma
  • occupational and industrial medicine

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  • Correction notice This article has been corrected since it was published Online First. ORCID has been added for Russell J Coppack.

  • Contributors RJC and ANB conceived the idea for the clinical engagement exercise. PL analysed the data. PL and RJC wrote the first draft. All authors reviewed and provided additional review comments. All authors provided their full approval prior to submission.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information. Any queries related to this article should be directed to the corresponding author.

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