Outcomes research in the ICU: an aid in defining the role of physiotherapy.

Susan D. Hanekom; Mary Faure; Andre Coetzee

The economic reality of consumers, funders, and regulatory agencies demanding evidence regarding the quality of care patients are receiving in the intensive care unit (ICU) will have an effect on many of the routinely used practices in ICU, including physiotherapy. Outcomes research is a method that has been used to obtain evidence for the medical and respiratory management of patients in ICU. An overview of the literature was conducted to answer the following questions: 1. What is outcomes research? 2. Which outcomes should be measured in the adult critical care environment? 3. Which outcomes are physiotherapists currently including in research reports? Outcomes research is recognized by critical care specialists as a cost-effective method of determining what works in the real world. The value of physiologic measures is questioned, whereas the importance of patient centered, economic, and traditionally accepted outcome measures is increasingly being recognized. Most physiotherapy research reports still include physiologic measurements as the primary outcome of an intervention. Outcomes research provides researchers with the tools to define the role of the physiotherapist in the critical care environment. The outcomes measured must be relevant to patients, families, and funders.

Physiotherapy Theory and Practice, 2007,23(3), 125 – 135.

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