Promoting physical therapists' use of research evidence to inform clinical practice: Part 3 - Long term feasibility assessment of the PEAK program

Julie K. Tilson*, Sharon Mickan, Robbin Howard, Jonathan C. Sum, Maria Zibell, Lyssa Cleary, Bella Mody, Lori A. Michener

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Evidence is needed to develop effective educational programs for promoting evidence based practice (EBP) and knowledge translation (KT) in physical therapy. This study reports long-term outcomes from a feasibility assessment of an educational program designed to promote the integration of research evidence into physical therapist practice. Methods: Eighteen physical therapists participated in the 6-month Physical therapist-driven Education for Actionable Knowledge translation (PEAK) program. The participant-driven active learning program consisted of four consecutive, interdependent components: 1) acquiring managerial leadership support and electronic resources in three clinical practices, 2) a 2-day learner-centered EBP training workshop, 3) 5 months of guided small group work synthesizing research evidence into a locally relevant list of, actionable, evidence-based clinical behaviors for therapists treating persons with musculoskeletal lumbar conditions - the Best Practices List, and 4) review and revision of the Best Practices List, culminating in participant agreement to implement the behaviors in practice. Therapists' EBP learning was assessed with standardized measures of EBP-related attitudes, self-efficacy, knowledge and skills, and self-reported behavior at baseline, immediately-post, and 6 months following conclusion of the program (long-term follow-up). Therapist adherence to the Best Practice List before and after the PEAK program was assessed through chart review. Results: Sixteen therapists completed the long-term follow-up assessment. EBP self-efficacy and self-reported behaviors increased from baseline to long-term follow-up (p < 0.001 and p = 0.002, respectively). EBP-related knowledge and skills showed a trend for improvement from baseline to long-term follow-up (p = 0.05) and a significant increase from immediate-post to long-term follow-up (p = 0.02). Positive attitudes at baseline were sustained throughout (p = 0.208). Eighty-nine charts were analyzed for therapist adherence to the Best Practices List. Six clinical behaviors had sufficient pre- and post-PEAK charts to justify analysis. Of those, one behavior showed a statistically significant increase in adherence, one had high pre- and post-PEAK adherence, and four were change resistant, starting with low adherence and showing no meaningful improvement. Conclusions: This study supports the feasibility of the PEAK program to produce long-term improvements in physical therapists' EBP-related self-efficacy and self-reported behavior. EBP knowledge and skills showed improvement from post-intervention to long-term follow-up and a trend toward long-term improvements. However, chart review of therapists' adherence to the participant generated Best Practices List in day-to-day patient care indicates a need for additional support to facilitate behavior change. Future versions of the PEAK program and comparable multi-faceted EBP and KT educational programs should provide ongoing monitoring, feedback, and problem-solving to successfully promote behavior change for knowledge translation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number144
Number of pages13
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2016
Externally publishedYes


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