Outcome Measures in Patient Care

Measuring outcomes is an important component of physical therapists practice. They are important in direct management of individual patient care and for the opportunity they provide the profession in collectively comparing care and determining effectiveness.

The use of standardized tests and measures early in an episode of care establishes the baseline status of the patient/client, providing a means to quantify change in the patient's/client's functioning. Outcome measures, along with other standardized tests and measures used throughout the episode of care, as part of periodic reexamination, provide information about whether predicted outcomes are being realized. As the patient/client reaches the termination of physical therapy services and the end of the episode of care, the physical therapist measures the outcomes of the physical therapy services.

Standardized outcome measures provide a common language with which to evaluate the success of physical therapy interventions, thereby providing a basis for comparing outcomes related to different intervention approaches. Measuring outcomes of care within the relevant components of function, including body functions and structures, activity, and participation, among patients/clients with the same diagnosis, is the foundation for determining which intervention approaches comprise best clinical practice.

To advance the process of agreeing on the best outcome measures, the Section on Research formed the EDGE Taskforce (for Evaluation Database to Guide Effectiveness) in 2006. The primary goal of the taskforce is to assist in the identification of a core set of tests/measures for each practice area.

The following resources will help you understand more about standardize outcome measures in physical therapy.

Outcome Resources

Podcasts & Videos

Tests and Measures

Section Resources

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Guide to PT Practice