Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 2007


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Rehabilitation Science


Rangos School of Health Sciences

Committee Chair

Gregory H. Frazer

Committee Member

Gregory F. Marchetti

Committee Member

Ingrid Provident

Committee Member

Paula Turocy


Evidence based practice, participatory action research, pediatric physical therapy


Introduction: The purpose of this project was to describe in detail the attitudes, beliefs, and practices of a group of pediatric physical therapists regarding evidence-based practice. In addition, utilizing a collaborative, participatory action research approach, several strategies and outcomes were identified as a means to aid these individuals in improving their ability to use research evidence for clinical decision making.

Methods: The primary investigator and a group of five pediatric physical therapists collaborated to develop and implement strategies and outcomes that were best suited for each individual. During phase I, information was gathered to describe the participants' current beliefs, attitudes, and practices with regard to evidence-based practice. This information was used to develop group and individual strategies, which were implemented during phase II. During phase III, the outcomes were identified and described. A variety of methods were used to gather information throughout all phases, including individual and focus group interviews, document review, surveys and questionnaires, and self-reported Goal Attainment Scaling scores.

Results: The results were organized into five individual case reports for each of the participants and a description of the Practice. Practice: Most of the participants worked in a setting as the only physical therapist and most were over 40 years of age and had been practicing for longer than 15 years. All had a positive attitude toward evidence-based practice. However most reported reading less than two articles per month and performing less than two database searches per month and lacked confidence with these skills. The participants demonstrated a significant improvement (p < .05) in their knowledge and behaviors regarding research and evidence-based practice at the conclusion of the project. Participant K reported little confidence with evidence-based practice skills. The group and individual strategies during the acting phase were helpful but insufficient in helping her overcome her barriers to make a significant improvement. Participant P, the owner of the Practice, reported functioning at a high level with regard to evidence-based practice, and therefore reported little improvement in evidence-based practice skills or activities. Participant A, a recent graduate, ranked herself fairly highly initially and indicated that the strategies in this project were an impetus to resume utilizing the skills she had learned during her entry-level education. Participant R described less confidence with her evidence-based practice skills and reported an improvement in these skills at the conclusion of the project. Participant L reported some confidence initially with her evidence-based practice skills, and this project was helpful, although she reported a persistent lack of confidence with article analysis skills.

Discussion: Each of the participants described positive attitudes and beliefs towards the construct of evidence-based practice, along with a desire to increase their skills in this area. The quantitative and qualitative data seem to suggest that there was some improvement in the participants' knowledge and behavior with regard to research evidence. However, the participants also reported continued struggles with carrying out evidence-based practice activities.