Program Research Coordinators (RC’s)
A Research Coordinator (RC) must be assigned at each participating program. RC duties typically include the following:
- Add newly admitted clients to OutcomeTools
- Assign and administer surveys to clients, parents & therapists
- Assign and administer discharge surveys for upcoming discharges
- Closely monitor the Master Dashboard in OutcomeTools for expired surveys
- Closely monitor the Master Dashboard for upcoming post discharge surveys and facilitate follow up calls and emails
- Inactivate clients who have completed the data collection cycle or did not complete the surveys during the active period.Report to supervisors on the ongoing status of data collection
Selecting a Research Coordinator
Data collection success is always the result of well-crafted data collection systems and a competent RC. It is important to select an RC who is systems oriented and attentive to detail.
How Much Time Will it Take?
The amount of time required for data collection is heavily influenced by census fluctuations, quality of systems, survey delivery methods and standards for following up with expired and incomplete surveys.
For many high-volume and shorter length-of-stay programs like wilderness therapy the RC may need up to 15 hours per week. For residential programs with a longer length of stay and a census between 20-50 clients it may only require 5 hours per week or less. With high quality systems and the right research coordinator these numbers can be significantly reduced.
The following attributes are common to the most successful RC’s in the field:
- Attentive to detail
- Technologically capable
- Long-term commitment to the organization
The single-most important of these characteristics is CONSISTENCY. An inconsistent effort results in broken data chains that compromise the value of the data set. It can be, and has been, painful for many organizations to invest the time and resources into data collection only to have scant results after a year or more of effort. It is essential that the right RC be selected and that systems and training are thoroughly planned before going live.
Office managers have proven to be very effective RC’s. Typically office managers are already handling documents and have systems for clients at admission and discharge. They are often detail oriented and accustomed to systematically checking off lists. Office managers will have convenient access to databases holding needed client information and will have some contact with parents throughout the course of treatment. In short, the office manager is already well positioned to collect data.
In some cases a direct-care staff with research interests can make an excellent RC. A pitfall, however, is that a part-time RC with direct care duties is often forced to neglect data collection in favor of more urgent client-related duties. If a direct -care RC is not allotted sufficient time for data collection it is easy to miss scheduled surveys. Missed surveys results in broken data chains that can compromise or eliminate the value of data already collected. If a direct care RC is chosen it is recommended that a supervisor regularly monitor data collection efforts or that external oversight be employed. Additionally, turnover for direct-care employees tends to be more frequent. Periods of retraining have proven to cause significant data loss in the past.
Research interested therapists with lightened caseloads can be very effective RC’s. It is more likely that the collected data be used for clinical purposes if a therapist is knowledgeable about the instruments and attentive to the results. Much like the pitfalls for part-time direct-care RC’s, therapist’s can be pulled away from data collection during high census fluctuations and can result in significant data loss.