The RESearch PARamedic Experience (RESPARE) study: a qualitative study exploring the experiences of research paramedics working in the United Kingdom

Graham McClelland*, Matt Limmer, Karl Charlton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The research paramedic position is a relatively niche role undertaken by a small number of paramedics who support, deliver and promote research. Research paramedic roles provide opportunities to develop talented researchers who are recognised as vital elements of developing a research culture within ambulance services. The benefits of research-active clinicians have been recognised at a national level. The aim of this study was to explore the experience of people who work, or have worked, as research paramedics.

Methods: A generic qualitative approach underpinned by phenomenological concepts was used. Volunteers were recruited via ambulance research leads and social media. Online focus groups allowed participants to discuss their roles with peers who may be geographically distant. Semi-structured interviews expanded on the focus group findings. Data were recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using framework analysis.

Results: Eighteen paramedics (66% female, median involvement in research six (interquartile range 2‐7) years) representing eight English NHS ambulance trusts participated in three focus groups and five interviews lasting around one hour, in November and December 2021.

Six key themes were identified: starting as a research paramedic; barriers and facilitators to working as a research paramedic; research careers; opportunities; the community (support and networking); and the value of a clinical identity.

Conclusions: Many research paramedics had similar experiences in terms of starting their career by delivering research for large studies, then building on this experience and the networks they create to develop their own research. There are common organisational and financial barriers to working as a research paramedic. Career progression in research beyond the research paramedic role is not well defined, but often involves building links outside of the ambulance service.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-22
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Paramedic Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2023

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