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Evidence Based Practice for Physical Therapy

Evidence-based practice tips and resources for physical therapy.

What is EB-PT?

EB-PT: Evidence Based Practice for Physical Therapy


“Evidence-based practice (EBP) is a problem-solving approach to the delivery of health care that integrates the best evidence from studies and patient care data with clinician expertise and patient preferences and values. When delivered in a context of caring and in a supportive organizational culture, the highest quality of care and best patient outcomes can be achieved" (Stillwell, Fineout-Overholt, Melnyk, & Williamson, 2010, p. 58). 


"The practice of evidence-based physiotherapy should be informed by the integration of relevant high quality clinical research, patients' preferences and physiotherapists' practice knowledge" (Herbert, 2005, p. 2).

In the event that high quality clinical research is not available, good practice must make use of other sources of information such as peers, practice guidelines, practice knowledge, and any other lower quality research to inform action in practice.

Why Practice EB-PT?

The practice of EBPT really comes from making the "cost effectiveness of physiotherapeutic intervention in comparison with other ... treatment, or no treatment at all" make clinical sense (Koes, 1997).

Another reason for the existence of EBPT, is because it is "the best strategy clinicians can use to cope with the potential chaos and uncertainty of modern clinical practice, and to meet the ethical imperative of providing the best possible care for our patients" (Sherrington, Moseley & Herbert, 2001, p. 125).

Goals of EB-PT

  • To make sure that all decisions made for patient care take into account "the best available evidence"
  • To better plan and evaluate service delivery
  • To better analyze research studies and direct those findings to better care
  • To take better measurement and do interpretation of outcomes to provide the best care possible
  • To provide better patient information
  • To better understand the reasons for lack of compliance by patients in relation to their PT care
  • To accurately gauge the relationship between patients and physical therapists and its effect on health-related outcomes
  • To develop theories based on evidence in practice


Content for this guide has been adapted from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Health Science Library as per the Community Use guidelines of LibGuides.