Knowledge Expectations of Wound Management Specialist in Physical Therapy

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To determine what specialized knowledge is expected of individuals who are specialists in the physical therapy management of patients/clients with integumentary impairments.

Study Design:

It was a qualitative study design.


Currently, no physical therapist-specific wound management specialization is available. As part of the process of developing a mechanism for recognizing specialists in the physical therapy management of wounds, the knowledge that such a specialist is expected to have was explored.

Methods and Measures:

The Delphi technique was used in an electronic distance format. An expert panel was recruited through the efforts of a committee assembled by the Academy of Clinical Electrophysiology and Wound Management of the American Physical Therapy Association. Panel members exchanged lists of what was considered specialized knowledge until consensus was reached. Items that reached consensus, in addition to items gleaned from other sources, were entered into an online survey distributed to 252 unique e-mail addresses obtained from member lists and petitions circulated at national wound management meetings. A scoring system was developed for each item for the categories of importance, frequency, and amount of judgment associated with each knowledge item. The survey was also used to collect data on demographics of the respondents and other facets related to petitioning the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists for a new specialization.


The Delphi project resulted in an extensive list of knowledge items that were reduced based on the scoring system used for importance and judgment associated with each knowledge item of the online survey. Thirty-two items reached the threshold score determined before data collection within the broader topics of basic science, clinical science, behavioral science, and critical inquiry.


In developing criteria for determining the characteristics of a clinical specialist, a body of knowledge for testing individuals is necessary. The use of a Delphi project allowed the development of a nationally based online survey to determine the expected knowledge of a physical therapist wound management specialist.

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