Use of ultrasound imaging by physiotherapists: a pilot study to survey use, skills and training

Man Ther. 2012 Feb;17(1):39-46. doi: 10.1016/j.math.2011.08.005. Epub 2011 Sep 28.


Objective: This study aimed to design and pilot a questionnaire to survey the use of ultrasound imaging (USI) by physiotherapists in the United Kingdom (UK), the type and content of ultrasound training physiotherapists using USI had undertaken and their perceived future training needs.

Background: The use of USI by physiotherapists is becoming increasingly common but is highly operator dependent and there are safety and professional issues regarding use in physiotherapy practice. Currently there are no specific training guidelines relating to physiotherapists using USI.

Methods: A questionnaire was developed, based on research literature and guidelines. Twelve experts in USI commented on the content and design. The electronic on-line questionnaire was piloted on groups that were likely to be users of USI.

Results: Forty-six respondents completed the questionnaire. Results indicated that USI is used predominantly for biofeedback and there are many unmet training needs. Respondents reported a mismatch between techniques for which they had received training and those that they used in practice and indicated a more structured training framework is required.

Conclusions: The development and piloting of the questionnaire provides a starting point for a more extensive evaluation of how USI is being used, the training needs of physiotherapists and benefits as a biofeedback tool. Refinement is needed and replication in a larger sample. Results could assist the development of a structured formal training framework encompassing key skills.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods
  • Education, Professional
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Therapists / education*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / education*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Population Surveillance
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Ultrasonography / statistics & numerical data*
  • United Kingdom