An Introduction to Clinical Audit for Radiographers

3. How does audit differ from research?

Clinical audit, research, and service evaluation are processes that occasionally overlap as they may utilise similar data collection tools and processes. However there are fundamental differences: Service evaluation aims to benchmark routine practice; clinical audit identifies if evidence-based practice is being followed; and research focusses upon the creation of new knowledge, often via a change to current practice. While definitions may differ between countries, a useful guide outlining the key differences is presented by the UK Health Research Authority 5

However, all clinical audits must be agreed locally (managerial approval) and should follow institutional processes for clinical audit which will provide guidance on local approval and reporting requirements. Most hospitals will have a Clinical Audit or Clinical Governance department which can provide helpful advice and support.