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Evidence Based Physical Therapy: What is EBPT?

Created by Health Science Librarians

What is EBPT?

Evidence-based physical therapy (EBPT) has been defined as "physiotherapy informed by relevant high quality clinical research" (Herbert, Jamtvedt, Mead & Hagen, 2005, p. 1).

"The practice of evidence-based physiotherapy should be informed by the integration of relevant high quality clinical research, patients' preferences and physiotherapists' practice knowledge" (Herbert, p. 2).

In the event that high quality clinical research is not available, good practice must make use of other sources of information such as peers, practice guidelines, practice knowledge, and any other lower quality research to inform action in practice.

Why Practice EBPT?

The practice of EBPT really comes from making the "cost effectiveness of physiotherapeutic intervention in comparison with other ... treatment, or no treatment at all" make clinical sense (Koes, 1997).

Another reason for the existence of EBPT, is because it is "the best strategy clinicians can use to cope with the potential chaos and uncertainty of modern clinical practice, and to meet the ethical imperative of providing the best possible care for our patients" (Sherrington, Moseley & Herbert, 2001, p. 125).

Goals of EBPT

Following evidence based practice procedures helps to:

  • make sure that all decisions made for patient care take into account "the best available evidence"
  • better plan and evaluate service delivery
  • better analyze research studies and direct those findings to better care
  • take better measurement and do interpretation of outcomes to provide the best care possible
  • provide better patient information
  • better understand the reasons for lack of compliance by patients in relation to their PT care
  • accurately gauge the relationship between patients and physical therapists and its effect on health-related outcomes.
  • develop theories based on evidence in practice.

EBPT History

Since the early 1990's, following the rise of Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM), the concept of evidence-based practice has been associated with physical therapy. The first publication on this topic came out of the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Maatricht, Netherlands. Today, the major study center is the Centre for Evidence-Based Physiotherapy based in the School of Physiotherapy at the University of Sydney, Australia.