Clinical databases in physical therapy

Physiother Theory Pract. 2007 May-Jun;23(3):153-67. doi: 10.1080/09593980701209097.


Clinical databases in physical therapy provide increasing opportunities for research into physical therapy theory and practice. At present, information on the characteristics of existing databases is lacking. The purpose of this study was to identify clinical databases in which physical therapists record data on their patients and treatments and to investigate the basic aspects, data sets, output, management, and data quality of the databases. Identification of the databases was performed by contacting members of the World Confederation for Physical Therapy, searching Pubmed, searching the Internet, and snowball sampling. A structured questionnaire was used to study the characteristics of the databases. The search was restricted to North America, Australia, Israel, and Western Europe. Seven clinical databases on physical therapy were identified. Four databases collected data on specific patient categories, whereas the others collected data on all patients. All databases collected data on patient characteristics, referrals, diagnoses, treatments, and closure, whereas some databases also collected functional status information. The purposes of the databases were diverse, but they can be summarized as quality improvement, research, and performance management. Although clinical databases are new to the field, they offer great potential for physical therapy research. Potential can be increased by further cooperation among databases allowing international comparative studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection*
  • Databases, Factual*
  • Humans
  • Information Systems
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Physical Therapy Specialty*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / statistics & numerical data