Do physiotherapists' attitudes towards evidence-based practice change as a result of an evidence-based educational programme?

J Eval Clin Pract. 2004 May;10(2):207-17. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2753.2003.00479.x.


Rationale: The concept of evidence-based practice (EBP) encourages health care professionals to provide the most effective health care, and to be accountable for the interventions they provide. Little work has been undertaken to examine how practically allied health professionals' encompass EBP and how they perceptive and understand the concept of EBP. The use of opinion leaders to disseminate new evidence into practice, and thereby encourage the behaviour of health care professionals has been proposed.

Aims: The aims of this study were to investigate physiotherapists' attitudes towards EBP and to examine change in their attitudes following an education package, which utilized local opinion leaders.

Method: Thirty musculoskeletal physiotherapists from a Community Trust in North Staffordshire were cluster randomized by location of work to two groups. The intervention group received an evidence-based programme on aspects of EBP including literature searching and critical appraisal. The attention control group received a standard in-service training package on the management of common knee pathologies. The physiotherapists' attitudes towards EBP were measured at baseline (before randomization) and at 3 and 6 months follow-up.

Results: Physiotherapists reported that they primarily relied on 'courses' and 'in-service training' for informing their clinical practice. Most agreed that clinical practice should be based on the best available evidence and that they would change their clinical practice if evidence suggested they should do so. However, many of the physiotherapists reported difficulty in reading journals and could not identify opinion leaders in key areas. In terms of clinical practice, literature, journals and research were ascribed low priority throughout. Differences in attitudes between the intervention and control groups were observed in relation to management support for EBP at 3 and 6 months follow-up.

Conclusions: In this study, physiotherapists appeared to be in favour of the idea of EBP, yet they remained reluctant to change their practice. Opinion leaders were not easily identifiable by physiotherapists, suggesting that this method alone may not be an effective method of changing attitudes in clinical practice. The process of changing attitudes in the clinical environment is a complex issue worthy of further research.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Diffusion of Innovation
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Humans
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Physical Therapy Specialty*
  • United Kingdom
  • Workforce