Implementing evidence-based practice in the UK physical therapy professions: do they want it and do they feel they need it?

Authors: Evans, D.W., Foster, N.E.L., Vogel, S. and Breen, A.C.

Journal: Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery - British Volume

Volume: 87-B

Pages: 39

ISSN: 0301-620X


Background & Objectives: The physical therapy professions (musculoskeletal physiotherapy, osteopathy and chiropractic) are involved in the management of low back pain (LBP) in approximately 15–20% of all cases in the UK. LBP accounts for between 50% and 67% of the workload of this group. Initiatives to implement evidence-based practice (EBP) in the UK have included the development of national multidisciplinary guidelines for acute LBP, the target audience of which include all three physical therapy professions.

The objective of this study was to explore and identify perceptions, attitudes and beliefs held by practitioners from these three professional groups about their approaches to the care of LBP patients.

Methods & Results: An exploratory study was used to investigate beliefs and attitudes of practitioners, concerning factors that potentially influence practice. Particular attention was given to practitioners’ thoughts on the opportunities and threats of taking an EBP approach to LBP management, and identifying other factors that influence their clinical behaviour with LBP patients. Following ethical approval and informed consent, five focus groups were conducted with members of the physical therapy professions. Audio recordings of each focus group were made, and subsequently transcribed verbatim. Transcript data were analysed in line with a grounded theory approach to produce relevant themes.

Preliminary categories of themes that emerged were: Evidence; Perceived Knowledge; Personality Characteristics; Professional Identity; The Patient; and Motivation. Of particular interest, practitioners seem to have mixed opinions with regard to basing their practice on evidence from external research.

Conclusions: Practitioners’ views of EBP in LBP management are diverse and it cannot be presumed that all practitioners view EBP as desirable. They seem to have mixed opinions with regard to basing their practice on evidence from external research. Practitioner behaviour, and thus the implementation of EBP may relate to practitioners’ beliefs and attitudes.

Source: Manual