Philosophy of science and physiotherapy: an insight into practice

Physiother Theory Pract. 2008 Nov-Dec;24(6):397-407. doi: 10.1080/09593980802511797.


This article presents an overview of the philosophy of science and applies such philosophical theory to clinical practice within physiotherapy. A brief history of science is followed by the theories of the four most commonly acknowledged philosophers, introduced in the context of examples from clinical practice. By providing direct links to practical examples, it demonstrates the possibilities of relating the logical basis of this field of study to the clinical setting. The relevance to physiotherapy is that, by relating this theory, clinicians can better understand and analyse the fundamental logic behind their practice. The insight this provides can benefit professional development in several ways. For the clinician, it permits more comprehensive and coherent reasoning and helps to relate evidence with respect to individual patients. On a larger scale, it encourages reflective discussion between peers around the virtues of alternative treatment approaches. Thus, this topic has the potential to guide clinical practice toward being more scientific and may help raise the credibility of the profession as a whole.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Comprehension
  • Concept Formation
  • Decision Making
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Status Indicators
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, Ancient
  • Humans
  • Logic
  • Philosophy* / history
  • Physical Therapy Modalities* / history
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Thinking