Attitudes Toward Adoption of Evidence-Based Practice Among Physical Therapists and Social Workers: A Lesson for Interprofessional Continuing Education

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Professionals who embrace evidence-based practice (EBP) continually search for research evidence, appraise, and apply it, while interacting with each client in his/her situation. This dynamic learning process takes a substantial commitment from professionals and requires a positive attitude toward EBP. The main objective of this research was to explore the following: 1) distinct dimensions of attitudes toward adoption of EBP among physical therapists and social workers and 2) the relationship between these dimensions of attitudes and selected background characteristics of the compared professions.


Cross-sectional web-based surveys were conducted in 2012 and 2013 on a population-based sample from the Icelandic Physical Therapy Association and the Icelandic Association of Social Workers. The participants were 214 physical therapists (76.3% women) and 163 social workers (92.2% women). The Evidence-Based Practice Attitude Scale (EBPAS) and its four subscales were used to survey dimensions of attitudes toward EBP. Scores on the total EBPAS range from zero to five, with a higher score indicating a more positive attitude toward EBPs. Linear regression was used to explore the relationship between the EBPAS scales and selected background variables.


The overall response rate was 39%. Both professions generally held positive attitudes toward adoption of EBP, with an average EBPAS total score of 3.06 (SD = 0.46). The professionals' background characteristics were independently related to at least one dimension of attitudes toward EBP. More positive attitudes were associated with being a physical therapist, a woman, in a younger age group, having a graduate degree, working with individual clients, and having at least five same-profession coworkers.


The results may be useful to design continuing education focusing on EBP. Such inventions should be targeted to professional attitudes, background, and other contextual factors.

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