Knowledge translation in physical therapy: from theory to practice

Disabil Rehabil. 2013 Aug;35(18):1571-7. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2012.748841. Epub 2013 Jan 23.


Purpose: Knowledge translation (KT) has emerged as a concept that can lead to a greater utilization of evidence-based research in systems of care. Despite a rise in KT research, the literature on KT in relation to physical therapy practice is scarce. This article provides physical therapists (PTs) with recommendations that can support the effective implementation of new knowledge and scientific evidence in clinical practice.

Method: Recommendations are grounded in the Ottawa Model of Research Use and in the literature in KT in the health professions.

Results: A well-established KT process, which is supported by a planning model, is essential to guide the implementation of scientific evidence. Consensus among all stakeholders about what evidence will be implemented must be reached. Context-related barriers and facilitators should be assessed and tailored active and multi-component interventions should be considered. Participation from individuals in intermediary positions (e.g. opinion leaders) supports implementation of KT interventions. Monitoring of the process and assessment of intended outcomes should be performed in order to assess the success of the implementation.

Conclusion: Five major recommendations grounded in the Ottawa model are provided that can assist PTs with the complex task of implementing new knowledge in their clinical practice.

Implications for rehabilitation: In order to support EBP, knowledge translation interventions can be used to support best practice. Implementation of new knowledge should be guided by a framework or a conceptual model. Consensus on the evidence must be reached and assessment of context-related factors should be done prior to the implementation of any KT intervention. Intervention strategies should be active, multi-component and include individuals with intermediary positions that can facilitate the KT process.

MeSH terms

  • Diffusion of Innovation*
  • Evidence-Based Practice*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Knowledge Management
  • Physical Therapists
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Translational Research, Biomedical / methods*