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Determinants of research use in clinical decision making among physical therapists providing services post-stroke: a cross-sectional study

Author(s): Salbach Nancy | Guilcher Sara | Jaglal Susan | Davis David

Journal: Implementation Science
ISSN 1748-5908

Volume: 5;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 77;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Abstract Background Despite evidence of the benefits of research use in post-acute stroke rehabilitation where compliance with clinical practice guidelines has been associated with functional recovery and patient satisfaction, the rate of reliance on the research literature in clinical decision making among physical therapists is low. More research examining factors that motivate physical therapists to consider research findings in neurological practice is needed to inform efforts to intervene. The objective of this study was to identify practitioner, organizational, and research characteristics associated with research use among physical therapists providing services post-stroke. Methods A cross-sectional mail survey of physical therapists providing services to people with stroke in Ontario, Canada was conducted. The survey questionnaire contained items to evaluate practitioner and organizational characteristics and perceptions of research considered to influence evidence-based practice (EBP), as well as the frequency of using research evidence in clinical decision making in a typical month. Ordinal regression was used to identify factors associated with research use. Results The percentage of respondents reporting research use in clinical decision making 0 to 1, 2 to 5, or 6+ times in a typical month was 33.8%, 52.9%, and 13.3%, respectively (n = 263). Academic preparation in the principles of EBP, research participation, service as a clinical instructor, self-efficacy to implement EBP, a positive attitude towards research, perceived organizational support of research use, and Internet access to bibliographic databases at work were each associated with research use and placed in the final regression model. In the final model (n = 244), academic preparation in EBP, EBP self-efficacy, agreement that research findings are useful, and research participation each remained significantly associated with research use after adjusting for the effects of the other variables in the model. Conclusions A third of therapists rarely use research evidence in clinical decision making. Education in the principles of EBP, EBP self-efficacy, a positive attitude towards research, and involvement in research at work may promote research use in neurological physical therapy practice. Future research is needed to confirm these findings and to determine the type of research participation that may promote research use.
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