Ability of PTs to undertake evidence-based practice
Physiotherapists (PTs) are expected to apply scientifically derived knowledge to promote patient care and improve outcomes. But the ability and impact of evidence-based practice (EBP) on clinical practice is rarely evaluated. This study investigated whether PTs undertook the EBP steps and what the impact of these steps was. Although most PTs have a positive attitude towards EBP, they often rely on other sources to answer clinical questions, rather than undertaking the EBP steps.
Over many years, efforts have been made to educate and enable therapists to be able to undertake one aspect of EBP namely asking, acquiring, appraising and applying best available evidence to patients and assessing the impact of the science. Our current study sought to review if PTs undertook the EBP steps and any impact of these steps.
Despite positive attitudes towards EBP, we found limited examples of PTs completing all five proposed steps of EBP. Therapist’s knowledge about EBP was often focused on statistical terms and interpretation. The frequency of doing EBP was low, but importantly, the drivers (information gaps) for undertaking EBP were not assessed. The impact of EBP on patient care was not directly assessed so the benefits of EBP have not been measured (unless clinical guidelines are considered the limit of evidence).
Rather than undertake EBP steps, therapists currently rely on social networks; colleagues and external trusted sources (communities of practice) to answer clinically relevant questions. This illustrates internal balancing of evidence from both literature based sources and tacit experiential sources (clinical skills and experience).
> From: Condon et al., Physiotherapy 102 (2016) 10-19. All rights reserved to Elsevier Ltd. Click here for the Pubmed summary.