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The physical therapy profession recognizes the use of evidence-based practice as central to providing high-quality care and decreasing unwarranted variation in practice.

EBP includes the integration and application of best available evidence, clinical expertise, and patient values and circumstances related to patient and client management, practice management, and health policy decision-making.

Below is how APTA has embraced the core elements of EBP as defined originally by Sackett.

  1. Best-Available Evidence. Although EBP encompasses more than just applying the best-available evidence, many of the concerns and barriers to using EBP revolve around finding and applying evidence from the literature.
  2. Clinician’s Knowledge and Skills. The knowledge and skills of the physical therapist (PT) and physical therapist assistant (PTA) are key parts of the evidence-based process. The PT’s personal scope of practice and the PTA’s personal scope of work consist of the activities undertaken for which the individual is educated, trained, and
    competent to perform. Using clinical decision-making and judgment is key.
  3. Patient’s Wants and Needs. The patient’s wants and needs are the third key part of the evidence-based process. As described in the guiding principle “Consumer-centricity” within APTA’s Vision for the Profession, the values and goals of the patient, client, or health care consumer are central to all efforts in which the physical therapy profession engages. Incorporating a patient’s cultural considerations, needs, and goals is a necessary skill in providing best-practice care. (See Cultural Competence in Physical Therapy.)

Many types of evidence and resources are available, yet a large gap remains between the synthesis of evidence and its application in clinical practice.

APTA is committed to helping PTs and PTAs develop, synthesize, and use credible evidence. Clinical practice guidelines are essential tools in this process.


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