Learning Health Systems Research Competencies: A Survey of the Rehabilitation Research Community

Christine M. McDonough*, Kathleen M. Poploski, Catherine A. Anderson, Thiru M. Annaswamy, Melissa A. Clark, Natalie F. Douglas, Ann Marie Flores, Janet K. Freburger, Brian J. Hafner, Jeanne M. Hoffman, Adam R. Kinney, Kristin Ressel, Jennifer Sánchez, Margarite J. Whitten, Linda Resnik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective. The Learning Health Systems Rehabilitation Research Network (LeaRRn), an NIH-funded rehabilitation research resource center, aims to advance the research capacity of learning health systems (LHSs) within the rehabilitation community. A needs assessment survey was administered to inform development of educational resources. Methods. The online survey included 55 items addressing interest in and knowledge of 33 LHS research core competencies in 7 domains and additional items on respondent characteristics. Recruitment targeting rehabilitation researchers and health system collaborators was conducted by LeaRRn, LeaRRn health system partners, rehabilitation professional organizations, and research university program directors using email, listservs, and social media announcements. Results. Of the 650 people who initiated the survey, 410 respondents constituted the study sample. Respondents indicated interest in LHS research and responded to at least 1 competency item and/or demographic question. Two-thirds of the study sample had doctoral research degrees, and one-third reported research as their profession. The most common clinical disciplines were physical therapy (38%), communication sciences and disorders (22%), and occupational therapy (10%). Across all 55 competency items, 95% of respondents expressed “a lot” or “some” interest in learning more, but only 19% reported “a lot” of knowledge. Respondents reported “a lot” of interest in a range of topics, including selecting outcome measures that are meaningful to patients (78%) and implementing research evidence in health systems (75%). “None” or “some” knowledge was reported most often in Systems Science areas such as understanding the interrelationships between financing, organization, delivery, and rehabilitation outcomes (93%) and assessing the extent to which research activities will improve the equity of health systems (93%). Conclusion. Results from this large survey of the rehabilitation research community indicate strong interest in LHS research competencies and opportunities to advance skills and training. Impact. Competencies where respondents indicated high interest and limited knowledge can inform development of LHS educational content that is most needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberpzad010
JournalPhysical therapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2023


  • Competencies
  • Learning Health Systems
  • Needs Assessment
  • Rehabilitation Research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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