Promoting physical therapists’ use of research evidence to inform clinical practice: part 2

Clinicians need innovative educational programs to enhance their ability to use research evidence to inform clinical decision-making. This paper and its companion paper introduce the Physical therapist-driven Education for Actionable Knowledge translation (PEAK) program, an educational program designed to promote physical therapists’ integration of research evidence into clinical decision-making. This, second of two, papers reports a mixed methods feasibility study of the PEAK program among physical therapists at three university-based clinical facilities. A convenience sample of 18 physical therapists participated in the six-month educational program. Mixed methods were used to triangulate results from pre-post quantitative data analyzed concurrently with qualitative data from semi-structured interviews and focus groups. Feasibility of the program was assessed by evaluating change in participants’ attitudes, self-efficacy, knowledge, skills, and self-reported behaviors in addition to their perceptions and reaction to the program. All 18 therapists completed the program. The group experienced statistically significant improvements in evidence based practice self-efficacy and self-reported behavior (pā€‰<ā€‰0.001). Four themes were supported by integrated quantitative and qualitative results: 1. The collaborative nature of the PEAK program was engaging and motivating; 2. PEAK participants experienced improved self-efficacy, creating a positive cycle where success reinforces engagement with research evidence; 3. Participants' need to understand how to interpret statistics was not fully met; 4. Participants thought that the utilization of research evidence in their clinical practice would result in better patient outcomes.

The PEAK program is a feasible educational program for promoting physical therapists' use of research evidence in practice. A key ingredient appears to be guided small group work leading to a final product that guides local practice. Further investigation is suggested to assess long-term behavior change and to compare outcomes to alternative educational models.