In this review: Cost-Effectiveness and Outcomes of Direct Access to Physical Therapy for Musculoskeletal Disorders Compared to Physician-First Access in the United States: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
PTJ (accepted manuscript)
The U.S. military health care system, as well as care systems in other countries, have a long history of direct access to physical therapist services — with evidence to back up the effectiveness of the approach. Now researchers analyzing only studies of direct access in the civilian U.S. health care say that seeing a PT first for musculoskeletal disorders works in that system, too, and on just about every front, including functional outcomes, decrease in disability, number of physical therapy visits, and cost. The bottom line, according to authors: "Direct access to physical therapy is more cost-effective in fewer visits than physician-first access in the United States, with greater functional improvement."