Background and purpose: Research is increasingly important in radiation therapy, but radiation therapists (or therapy radiographers) (RTs) are relatively new to research and may have difficulty defining research topics. Our aim was to identify the group interests and focus research priorities of Australian RTs. Although not measured, an additional aim was to make RTs more aware of the relevance of RT research.
Materials and methods: An Australia-wide Delphi process was used, examining the problems related to patient care, working with colleagues, and radiotherapy in general, that RTs experienced in their daily work. In an initial study, 374 problems were identified. These were translated into 53 research areas which were prioritised in the second stage of the study. Agreement between groups was analysed using a hierarchical cluster procedure and post hoc Scheffe multiple comparisons.
Results: There were three groups of responders with varying degrees of research interest. There was agreed high importance (p > 0.01) for the technical aspects of radiation therapy, such as image guidance, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and patient positioning. There was significant disagreement (p < 0.001 to p = 0.023) between groups on the importance of patient care research.
Conclusions: The strong interest in technical research is consistent with the rapid influx of technology, particularly in imaging. The disagreement on patient-related research may be of concern. The list of potential research areas specific to radiation therapy will be useful for new RT researchers to consider.