Aim To investigate the views of paediatric trainees about access to, and teaching of research competencies.
Methods An anonymised online questionnaire was circulated to all Paediatric Trainees in run through training in three Local Education and Training Boards in England.
Results 215 responses were received from 1025 trainees (73 level 1, 50 level 2, 92 level 3), a response rate of 21%. 19% had opportunity to work in an academic training post. Of all respondents, 42% (91/215) had a postgraduate qualification: MSc (43/215, 20%); PGCert (16/215, 7%); PGDip (14/215, 6%); MD (11/215, 5%); PhD (7/215, 3%). 49% have been an author of a peer reviewed journal article. 43% have given an oral presentation and 64% have presented a poster at a National or International Conference.
The majority rated quality of training as poor or very poor in all domains: critical appraisal of evidence (109/214, 51%); research methodology (146/213, 69%); ethics in research (149/211, 73%); consent for participation in research (125/213, 61%). The majority rated access and support as poor or very poor for all areas: involvement in ongoing research (134/213, 63%); delivering national/international presentations (134/211, 64%); publication of work in a peer reviewed journal (140/212, 66%). The three perceived barriers which rate most highly are: time (84%); senior support (62%) and lack of study budget (45%).
Trainee suggestions for improvement largely focussed on: teaching formal principles of research methodology and critical appraisal; improved senior support particularly in smaller hospitals; improved accessibility (time, cost and project options); and better integration of research into usual clinical training and practice.
Conclusions and discussion This survey has identified academic competencies as a significant learning gap in paediatric training. Quality of teaching, access to opportunities and appropriate senior support were all found lacking. Trainees on academic training programmes highlighted the significant differences they experienced compared with their time in non-academic training. This work supports the creation of a bespoke training package in child health research for all paediatric trainees and the need for all supervisors to identify relevant learning opportunities for their team.