Monitoring the change: current trends in outcome measure usage in physiotherapy

Man Ther. 2006 Feb;11(1):46-53. doi: 10.1016/j.math.2005.02.003.


Physiotherapists have traditionally relied on impairment measures such as range of motion and muscle strength to monitor patient progress. The impact of treatment on patients' daily activities can be assessed with valid and reliable questionnaires, but the use of standardized questionnaires by physiotherapists appeared to be limited. A range of strategies were implemented that aimed to increase physiotherapists' use of standardized measures of functional activities. A simple random sample of 300 was drawn from a database of physiotherapy providers to a transport accident scheme, and was surveyed in March and September 2003, with response rates of 51% and 55%, respectively. There was a statistically significant (P<.05) increase in reported use of seven questionnaires and a significant reduction in the perception of barriers that were targeted by the interventions The most frequently utilized tests were a pain rating scale and questionnaires for lumbar and cervical problems. Physiotherapists' attitudes to outcome measurement were generally positive although there was a small but statistically significant (P=.02) reduction in mean attitude score over the re-test period. Physiotherapists in the population sampled significantly increased their reported use of a range of standardized outcome measures over the re-test period. The trend towards greater objectivity in measuring the progress of rehabilitation can enable physiotherapists to develop improved treatment plans with the patients' needs at the centre of the equation.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Manipulations / methods*
  • Musculoskeletal Manipulations / organization & administration
  • Musculoskeletal Manipulations / statistics & numerical data*
  • Musculoskeletal Manipulations / trends
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Pain Measurement / trends*
  • Pain Threshold / physiology
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Population Surveillance
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care
  • Recovery of Function / physiology
  • Spinal Diseases / rehabilitation*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards*