The diverging perception among physiotherapists of how to work with the concept of evidence: a phenomenographic analysis

J Eval Clin Pract. 2014 Dec;20(6):759-66. doi: 10.1111/jep.12167. Epub 2014 May 10.


Rationale, aims and objectives: Changes in Sweden's municipal care have impacted the situation of physiotherapists by the adoption of practice based on research evidence. Even if physiotherapists appear to be in favour of the idea of evidence-based practice, barriers still exist that prevent many from keeping up with current research. The aim of this study was to identify and describe the different ways in which physiotherapists in municipal care perceive the concept of evidence in rehabilitation.

Methods: A phenomenographic design with semi-structured interviews was carried out with physiotherapists working with frail older people in three municipal care units in two neighbouring municipalities in Sweden. The physiotherapists' perceptions of evidence were explored in 12 interviews.

Results: Distinct perceptions of the concept of evidence are identified in three categories: 'Confidence with the concept of evidence in relation to measurement instruments'; 'Perception of evidence-based practice as a duty, condition and demand of the profession'; and 'Evidence-based work as a separate rather than directly patient-oriented activity'.

Conclusions: Physiotherapists take full responsibility to comply with what they perceive to be the demands of their profession. However, what evidence actually meant, and therefore what the practical element of this responsibility consisted of, was not as clear.

Keywords: evidence-based practice; frail older adults; municipal care; phenomenographic analysis; physiotherapy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Evidence-Based Practice / ethics
  • Evidence-Based Practice / methods*
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Learning
  • Male
  • Physical Therapists / organization & administration*
  • Physical Therapists / psychology
  • Professional Competence*
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Qualitative Research
  • Self Concept*
  • Sweden