Participatory peer research exploring the experience of learning during Covid-19 for Allied Health and Healthcare Science Students

Jean Daly Lynn, Lucia Ramsey, Joanne Marley, Johanna Rohde, Toni-Marie McGuigan, Adam Reaney, Brenda O'Neill, Andrea Jones, DP Kerr, Ciara Hughes, Sonyia McFadden, Anand Nayyar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
44 Downloads (Pure)


Introduction: The teaching and learning experience of allied health and healthcare science students has altered because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Limited research has explored the experience on the future healthcare workforce using participatory research design. The aim of this study was to explore the impact of a global pandemic on the clinical and academic experiences of healthcare student using a co-production approach with student peer researchers.
Methods: A participatory research approach adopting online focus groups facilitated by students trained as peer researchers was adopted. First, second and final year students from occupational therapy, physiotherapy, podiatry, healthcare science, diagnostic radiography and imaging, radiotherapy and oncology, and speech and language therapy were recruited to six focus groups. Data generated through focus groups were analysed thematically using the DEPICT model to support a partnership approach.
Results: Twenty-three participants took part in six focus groups. The themes identified were: rapid changes to learning; living alongside Covid-19 and psychological impact. Students preferred blended learning approaches when available, as reduced peer interaction, studying and sleeping in the same space, and technology fatigue decreased motivation.
Conclusion: Due to rapid changes in learning and the stress, anxiety and isolation created by the pandemic, managing study, personal life and placement resulted in a gap in confidence in clinical skills development for students. Students took their professional identity seriously, engaged in behaviours to reduce transmission of Covid-19 and employed a range of coping strategies to protect wellbeing. A challenge with the move to online delivery was the absence of informal peer learning and students indicated that moving forward they would value a hybrid approach to delivery. Higher Education should capitalise on innovative learning experiences developed during the pandemic however it is important to research the impact this has on student skill acquisition and learning experience.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0276180
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number10
Early online date27 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished online - 27 Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Council for Allied Health Professionals Research (CAPHR) and The Centre for Health and Rehabilitation Technologies (CHArT). Both funds provided small amounts of money directly to the project team, CAPHR provided funds for interview transcription and CHArT provided funds for two peer researchers to engage in analysis. CAPHR: https:// CHArT: research/topic/nursing-and-health/chart. Thank you to the wider team including academic researchers within the School of Health Sciences at Ulster University, peer researchers and placement student.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Daly Lynn et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


  • Covid-19
  • Participatory Research
  • Peer Research
  • Pandemics
  • Students
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Humans
  • Peer Group
  • COVID-19 - epidemiology


Dive into the research topics of 'Participatory peer research exploring the experience of learning during Covid-19 for Allied Health and Healthcare Science Students'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this