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  • Groundbreaking $2.5 Million Physical Therapist Research Initiative Will be Housed at Brown University

    It's no longer just a dream: a groundbreaking Center of Excellence for physical therapy health sciences research is now officially a reality. This week, the Foundation for Physical Therapy (Foundation) announced that Brown University in Rhode Island has been awarded a $2.5 million grant to create a transformative center for making dramatic improvements to the profession's research capacity.

    On February 4, the Foundation reported that Brown would receive the funding to establish the Center on Health Services Training and Research (CoHSTAR) over the next 5 years. While Brown will provide leadership and administration, Boston University (BU) and the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) will also participate in the multi-institutional research and training program, working together to deliver "a 3-part focus on analysis of large data sets, rehabilitation outcomes measurement, and implementation science and quality assurance," according to a Foundation news release.

    CoHSTAR will offer postdoctoral fellowships, host visiting scientists, and provide special summer training sessions. The center will also fund several pilot studies each year from investigators inside and outside the program. Over 5 years, CoHSTAR will train up to 9 fellows and 5 visiting scientists, all focused on strengthening physical therapy-related health services research.

    "Health services research is like the basic science of the health care system," said Linda Resnik, PT, PhD, CoHSTAR's principal investigator and director, in an APTA video dispatch. "Health services is the kind of research that is relied upon by government agencies, by lawmakers, by payers, providers, consumers, and others for important decision-making. This is the kind of research that has never been more important than it is today in this era of health care reform."

    Funding for CoHSTAR, formerly known as the Center of Excellence, came from a $1 million donation from APTA and gifts from 50 APTA components, as well as foundations, corporations, and individual physical therapists.

    "The establishment of CoHSTAR is a tremendous step forward for the physical therapist profession, and we couldn’t have come this far without our generous donors," said Foundation Board of Trustees President Barbara Connolly, PT, DPT, EdD, FAPTA.

    Resnick said that CoHSTAR will be operational in June 2015 and begin accepting applications for fellows in July. Application materials will be posted on the Foundation's website.

    'We need more physical therapy health services research to inform practice and policy," Resnik said. "Together we'll build a bigger community of physical therapy scientists who can provide evidence about the value of physical therapy, and who can address important issues that are facing the profession and the health care system."



    The Foundation announcement was made at the 2015 APTA Combined Sections Meeting being held in Indianapolis, Indiana.

    Visit the Foundation website to learn more about CoHSTAR and the impact the Foundation has made on physical therapy research.


    • There seems to be a belief that if we just do enough research, we can validate what we do as physical therapists. And if we are able to fully validate ourselves to others, especially those controlling the purse strings (i.e. the government and insurance companies), somehow there will be rewards to be reaped. And yet, as we do more and more research, reimbursements trend down, down, down, and patient access is increasingly encumbered by bureaucratic strictures and demands. Does anyone see a disconnect here?

      Posted by Brian Miller on 2/6/2015 9:14 PM

    • I welcome the research in multiple areas of therapy services. As professionals, we should be inquisitive and informed on our treatment methods and their efficacy, and I encourage all professionals to read and develop new approaches based on research, not hunches.

      Posted by Mary Sutton on 2/7/2015 10:07 PM

    • Responding to Brian's observation-I think many would agree about the apparent disconnect. It is clear that the volumes of clinical research have not translated into the legislative and regulatory changes hoped for. That is why this Center of Excellence initiative is such a necessary step for our profession. Research that has a health services/policy "bent" is critical; adding a broader practice delivery value perspective will hopefully produce the desired results in these arenas. Clinical research is responsible for much of the growth within our profession. Combined with the health services research gives us a much better chance to impact outside communities.

      Posted by Bill Boissonnault on 2/20/2015 10:46 AM

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