Evidence-based practice in physical therapy in Austria: current state and factors associated with EBP engagement

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Abstract

Rationale, aims and objectives

Research examining the use of evidence-based practice (EBP) in physical therapy in many countries has revealed positive attitudes, varying degrees of EBP use and barriers at practitioner, patient and organizational levels. In contrast to these countries, Austria does not have an academic or research tradition in physical therapy. Engagement in EBP in countries such as Austria is unknown. The objectives of the study were to describe the current state of EBP engagement and identify factors associated with EBP engagement among Austrian physical therapists (PTs).

Methods

A cross-sectional online survey was conducted. Existing questionnaires and the theory of planned behaviour guided questionnaire development. Face and content validity and ease of use of the questionnaire were evaluated in pilot tests. Item-level response frequencies and percentages were determined. Simple and multiple regressions were used to identify factors associated with EBP engagement.

Results

The final sample size was 588 (response rate: 17.5%). Ten percent of participants fully agreed that they regularly use guidelines and standardized assessment tools in clinical practice. While 49.9% reported not using electronic databases for literature searching, 41.9% reported reading research articles 2–5 times per month. Most frequently cited barriers to EBP engagement were lack of scientific skills, lack of time and insufficient organizational support. Research awareness, attitude, behavioural control, involvement in research and degree level were final correlates of EBP engagement.

Conclusion

Austrian PTs show a low level of engagement in EBP. Initiatives to advance EBP in Austria and other countries with no academic or research tradition should primarily target practitioner-level factors.

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