The propensity to adopt evidence-based practice among physical therapists

BMC Health Serv Res. 2007 Jul 5:7:103. doi: 10.1186/1472-6963-7-103.


Background: Many authors, as well as the American Physical Therapy Association, advocate that physical therapists adopt practice patterns based on research evidence, known as evidence-based practice (EBP). At the same time, physical therapists should be capable of integrating EBP within the day-to-day practice of physical therapy. The purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which personal characteristics and the characteristics of the social system in the workplace influence the propensity of physical therapists to adopt EBP.

Methods: The study used a 69 item mailed self-completion questionnaire. The questionnaire had four major sections. The first three sections were each drawn from a different theoretical framework and from different authors' work. The instrument was developed to capture the propensity of physical therapists to adopt EBP, characteristics of the social system in the workplace of physical therapists, personal characteristics of physical therapists, and selected demographic variables of physical therapists. The eligible population consisted of 3,897 physical therapists licensed by the state of Georgia in the United States of America. A random sample of 1320 potential participants was drawn.

Results: 939 questionnaires were returned for a response rate of 73%. 831 of the participants' questionnaires were useable and became the basis for the study. There was a moderate association between desire for learning (r = .36, r2 = .13), highest degree held (r = .29, r2 = .08), practicality (r = .27, r2 = .07) and nonconformity (r = .24, r2 = .06) and the propensity to adopt EBP. A negative correlation was found between age, years licensed and percentage of time in direct patient care. The findings demonstrated that the best three variables for predicting the propensity to adopt EBP in physical therapy were: desire for learning, highest degree held, and practicality.

Conclusion: The study confirms there is no single factor to facilitate research evidence into day-to-day practice. Multiple practice change strategies will be needed to facilitate change in practice.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Diffusion of Innovation
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Female
  • Georgia
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Therapy Specialty*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Professional Competence
  • Surveys and Questionnaires