Background: In many countries, the need for physical therapists to use standardised measures has been recognised and is recommended in clinical practice guidelines. Research has shown a lack of clinimetric knowledge and clinical application of measurement instruments in daily practice may hamper implementation of these guidelines.
Objectives: The aims of our study were a) to investigate the current use of measurement instruments by Dutch physical therapists; b) to investigate the facilitators and barriers in using measurement instruments.
Methods: To get a complete and valid overview of relevant barriers and facilitators, different methods of data collection were used. We conducted a literature search, semi-structured interviews with 20 physical therapists and an online survey.
Results: Facilitators are the fact that most therapists indicated a positive attitude and were convinced of the advantages of the use of measurement instruments. The most important barriers to the use of measurement instruments included physical therapists' competence and problems in changing behaviour, practice organisation (no room; no time) and the unavailability and feasibility of measurement instruments. Furthermore, physical therapists indicated the need to have a core set of measurement instruments with a short user's instruction on application, scoring and interpretation.
Conclusions: The main barriers are on the level of the physical therapist (lack of knowledge; not focusing on the use of outcome measures) and organisation (lack of time; availability; lack of management support).There seems to be a disparity between what physical therapists say and what they do. The majority of participating physical therapists indicated a positive attitude and were convinced of the advantages of the use of measurement instruments. However, the main problem for physical therapists is when to use which instrument for what patient (lack of knowledge). Furthermore, physical therapists indicated a need to compile a core set of measurement instruments with instructions concerning application, scoring and interpretation. Based on the identified factors, a number of strategies will be developed and evaluated in future studies.
© 2011 Swinkels et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.