Clinical prediction rules (CPRs) are widely used in medicine, but their application to physiotherapy practice is more recent and less widespread, and their implementation in physiotherapy clinical education has not been investigated. This study aimed to determine the experiences and perceptions of physiotherapy clinical educators regarding CPRs, and whether they are teaching CPRs to students on clinical placement. This was a cross-sectional observational survey using a modified Dillman method. Clinical educators (n=211, response rate 81%) supervising physiotherapy students from 10 universities across 5 states and territories in Australia. Half (48%) of respondents had never heard of CPRs, and a further 25% had never used CPRs. Only 27% reported using CPRs, and of these half (51%) were rarely if ever teaching CPRs to students in the clinical setting. However most respondents (81%) believed CPRs assisted in the development of clinical reasoning skills and few (9%) were opposed to teaching CPRs to students. Users of CPRs were more likely to be male (p<0.001), have post-professional qualifications (p=0.020), work in private practice (p<0.001), and work in the area of musculoskeletal physiotherapy (p<0.001) compared with non-users. The CPRs most commonly known, used and taught were the Ottawa Ankle Rule, the Ottawa Knee Rule, and Wells’ Rule for Deep Vein Thrombosis.
Students are unlikely to be learning about CPRs on clinical placement, as few clinical educators use them. Clinical educators will require training in CPRs and assistance in teaching them if students are to better learn about implementing CPRs in physiotherapy clinical practice.