Finding Physical Therapy Literature

You may have to search through multiple resources to find the research you need — no one database or Web site provides access to every journal or magazine article ever published. The information provided here should make your quest a little easier.

PTNow: ArticleSearch (Members Only)
APTA members may take advantage of ArticleSearch: a collection of health care-related journal and trade publication databases, the Cumulative Index for Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL ), open access journal resources, and more. Search, review journal issues, keep up-to-date with customized e-mailed keyword alerts, download citations in a variety of styles, output citations into designated bibliographic software products - all in a few clicks. Searching tutorials are provided.

PubMed is the National Library of Medicine's (NLM) electronic database of 20 million biomedical citations and abstracts that is searchable at no cost. It covers the fields of medicine, nursing, and health and rehabilitation sciences, including physical therapy. Journal articles are indexed, and their citations are searchable. APTA has compiled some PubMed/MEDLINE Research Tips to help get you started.

PubMed Central
PubMed Central (PMC), is the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature. All the articles and journals posted in PMC are free (sometimes on a delayed basis). PMC also has the free author manuscripts of articles published by NIH-funded researchers.

The National Library of Medicine's MedlinePlus service includes links to additional sources of health-related information such as news articles, directories, organizations, databases, and medical dictionaries.

CINAHL is the electronic version of the Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature. APTA members have access to CINAHL through ArticleSearch. CINAHL covers 1961 to the present and includes citations from 3,000+ journals and related magazines, including Physical Therapy (PTJ) and PT in Motion.

Cochrane Library
The Cochrane Library is intended to help providers, practitioners, and patients make informed decisions about health care. APTA members may access three databases from the Cochrane Library via ArticleSearch. These databases are: the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR), the Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE), and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL).

Hooked on Evidence
Hooked on Evidence is APTA's "grassroots" effort to develop a database containing current research evidence and clinical scenarios on the effectiveness of physical therapy interventions. APTA members may search the database for free; subscriptions are available to the public.

Additional Sources

  • Reference librarians at your institution's affiliated health care library, academic library, or public library are an excellent resource and can often recommend sources of information on your topic.
  • PTJ and PT in Motion both publish author and subject indexes for the previous year, in each December issue. You can use these indices to identify articles on your topic. Research articles, editorials, letters to the editor, corrections, and related research content from PTJ are available free online to the public beginning with the January 1980 issue up to the most recent 12 months. Research materials published during the most recent 12 months is available only to APTA members and subscribers.
  • Various patient management sources on topics including gait, electrical stimulation, cerebral palsy, balance, cardiopulmonary physical therapy, low back pain, manual therapy, movement science, pediatric orthopedics, physical disability, skeletal muscle, and pharmacology are available for purchase through APTA's online store.

How Can I Get Copies of Articles?

Try your affiliated healthcare or academic library. It may have the journal title you are looking for in its collection, or staff may be able to obtain the article for you through a Interlibrary Loan (ILL) service.

Loansome Doc, a service of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM). When you search the MEDLINE database on the Internet, you have the option of ordering the full text of the articles you find. In order to use the Loansome Doc service you must first establish an agreement with a health science library in your area. This library is your ordering library. All of the orders you place using Loansome Doc will be sent to this library. If there is a health science library you use on a regular basis, check with that library to determine if they provide Loansome Doc service. If you need assistance finding a library that can provide this service for you, contact the Regional Medical Library in your area at 800/338-7657. Staff there can provide information about libraries where you may establish a Loansome Doc account. For more information about how to use Loansome Doc, see the fact sheet.

Contact a document delivery service provider. Document delivery services charge for copies of articles, and prices vary among companies. Before you make a request, check the company's pricing policy. A list of selected document delivery service providers is provided below.

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