APTA Responds to The New York Times on Evidence-based Practice

January 8, 2010

Dear Editor:

The need for more quality evidence to guide physical therapist practice is imperative ("Treat Me, but No Tricks Please," Jan. 6). It is widely agreed, however, that all health professions must become more evidence-based. Studies show that less than 50 percent of current health care interventions have scientific evidence behind them.1 

Fortunately, there has been growing emphasis among all health care providers to improve this statistic. The American Physical Therapy Association, for one, has long advocated the use of evidence by producing evidence-based clinical practice resources and providing free, full-text, scientific articles to members.

But evidence alone cannot heal a patient. With the best available evidence at hand, a health care provider must use their evaluative skills, clinical judgment and assessment of a patient's needs to develop a plan of care.

Evidence is essential, but it must be combined with a health care provider's unique knowledge and understanding of an individual patient.


R. Scott Ward, PT, PhD
American Physical Therapy Association

1. El Dib RR, Atallah AN, Andriolo RB. Mapping the Cochrane evidence for decision making in health care. J Eval Clin Pract. 2007;13:689-692.

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