Clinical information behavior of rehabilitation therapists: a review of the research on occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech-language pathologists

J Med Libr Assoc. 2009 Jul;97(3):194-202. doi: 10.3163/1536-5050.97.3.008.


Objectives: The review sought to synthesize existing research relevant to rehabilitation therapists' clinical information behavior and to identify gaps in evidence, particularly in comparison to what is already known about the information behavior of other health professionals, such as physicians.

Methods: A literature review was conducted of both quantitative and qualitative research studies that included information on the clinical information behavior of occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech-language pathologists. Findings were organized according to a taxonomy of variables derived from the literature.

Results: Findings from seventeen studies, mostly surveys, conducted since 1990 demonstrate that very little is known about the clinical information needs of and information use by rehabilitation therapists. The sources most often consulted by rehabilitation therapists are printed materials (books and journals) and colleagues. Databases are consulted less often, and few rehabilitation therapists are aware of databases other than MEDLINE.

Discussion: Methodological flaws limit the generalizability and validity of much of the research conducted on the clinical information behavior of this population. More research is needed to better understand the clinical questions that arise in rehabilitation therapists' practice, reasons for consulting certain sources, and ways in which information seeking enhances evidence-based practice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Health Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Information Storage and Retrieval / statistics & numerical data*
  • Medical Informatics
  • Physicians
  • Rehabilitation / education*