Evidence based practice: a survey of physiotherapists' current practice

Physiother Res Int. 2006 Jun;11(2):93-103. doi: 10.1002/pri.328.


Background and purpose: [corrected] Evidence-based practice is the explicit use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients and is a concept of growing importance for physiotherapy. The aim of the present study was to investigate Australian physiotherapists' self-reported practice, skills and knowledge of evidence-based practice and to examine differences between recent and experienced graduates, physiotherapists with low and high levels of training and physiotherapists working in private practice and hospital settings.

Method: A survey was sent to 230 physiotherapists working in hospitals and in private practice. One hundred and twenty-four were completed and returned.

Results: Although 69.4% of respondents said they frequently (at least monthly) read research literature, only 10.6%, 15.3% and 26.6% of respondents, respectively, searched PEDro, Cochrane and Medline or Cinahl databases frequently, and only 25.8% of respondents reported critically appraising research reports. Recent graduates rated their evidence-based practice skills more highly than more experienced graduates, but did not perform evidence-based practice tasks more often. Physiotherapists with higher levels of training rated their evidence-based practice skills more highly, were more likely to search databases and to understand a range of evidence-based practice terminology than those with lower levels of training. Private practice and hospital physiotherapists rated their evidence-based practice skills equally and performed most evidence-based practice activities with equal frequency.

Conclusions: Respondents had a positive attitude toward evidence-based practice and the main barriers to evidence-based practice were time required to keep up to date, access to easily understandable summaries of evidence, journal access and lack of personal skills in searching and evaluating research evidence. Efforts to advance evidence-based practice in physiotherapy should focus on reducing these barriers.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / education*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / trends
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / trends
  • Physical Therapy Specialty / education*
  • Physical Therapy Specialty / trends
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data
  • Professional Practice / statistics & numerical data*
  • Professional Practice / trends
  • Research / education
  • Research / trends