Measuring Clinical Decision-Making and Clinical Skills in DPT Students Across a Curriculum Validating A New Survey

Healthcare is a fast-paced, dynamic atmosphere. Clinical decision-making and clinical skills have been identified as necessary skills for autonomous practitioners in physical therapy. However, there are limited tools to measure these skills, which are cumbersome to implement and not validated. The aim of this study was to validate a survey tool across three cohorts of DPT students and one cohort of physical therapy interns.

A 25-item survey tool was used to measure clinical decision-making and clinical skills. The survey tool was sent and data collected online via REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture). The survey response rates were between 19% and 47%. The Cronbach’s alpha was ≥0.964 across domains and the total scale. Mann-Whitney U-tests demonstrated significant differences between all cohorts except between the second- and third-year students. The interns demonstrated less variance in their answers than students earlier in the curriculum.

The survey demonstrated excellent internal consistency and construct and face validity. The psychometric properties of the tool and the possibility of a ceiling effect need to be studied further.