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Adv Med Educ Pract. 2012 Nov 27;3:113-9. doi: 10.2147/AMEP.S37510. Print 2012.

A structured process to develop scenarios for use in evaluation of an evidence-based approach in clinical decision making.

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  • 1Department of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.



Scenarios are used as the basis from which to evaluate the use of the components of evidence-based practice in decision making, yet there are few examples of a standardized process of scenario writing. The aim of this paper is to describe a step-by-step scenario writing method used in the context of the authors' curriculum research study.


Scenario writing teams included one physical therapy clinician and one academic staff member. There were four steps in the scenario development process: (1) identify prevalent condition and brainstorm interventions; (2) literature search; (3) develop scenario framework; and (4) write scenario.


Scenarios focused only on interventions, not diagnostic or prognostic problems. The process led to two types of scenarios - ones that provided an intervention with strong research evidence and others where the intervention had weak evidence to support its use. The end product of the process was a scenario that incorporates aspects of evidence-based decision making and can be used as the basis for evaluation.


The use of scenarios has been very helpful to capture therapists' reasoning processes. The scenario development process was applied in an education context as part of a final evaluation of graduating clinical physical therapy students.


clinical decision making; curriculum; evaluation; physical therapists

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