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Phys Ther. 2003 Sep;83(9):786-805.

Evidence-based practice: beliefs, attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors of physical therapists.

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Physical Therapy Program, Simmons College, 300 The Fenway, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



Little research has been done regarding the attitudes and behaviors of physical therapists relative to the use of evidence in practice. The purposes of this study were to describe the beliefs, attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors of physical therapist members of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) as they relate to evidence-based practice (EBP) and to generate hypotheses about the relationship between these attributes and personal and practice characteristics of the respondents.


A survey of a random sample of physical therapist members of APTA resulted in a 48.8% return rate and a sample of 488 that was fairly representative of the national membership. Participants completed a questionnaire designed to determine beliefs, attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors regarding EBP, as well as demographic information about themselves and their practice settings. Responses were summarized for each item, and logistic regression analyses were used to examine relationships among variables.


Respondents agreed that the use of evidence in practice was necessary, that the literature was helpful in their practices, and that quality of patient care was better when evidence was used. Training, familiarity with and confidence in search strategies, use of databases, and critical appraisal tended to be associated with younger therapists with fewer years since they were licensed. Seventeen percent of the respondents stated they read fewer than 2 articles in a typical month, and one quarter of the respondents stated they used literature in their clinical decision making less than twice per month. The majority of the respondents had access to online information, although more had access at home than at work. According to the respondents, the primary barrier to implementing EBP was lack of time.


Physical therapists stated they had a positive attitude about EBP and were interested in learning or improving the skills necessary to implement EBP. They noted that they needed to increase the use of evidence in their daily practice.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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