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Keywords:

  • cross-sectional studies;
  • curriculum;
  • evidence-based practice

Background and purpose

Physiotherapists are expected to practice in an evidence-based way. Evidence-based practice (EBP) should be an integral part of the curriculum to ensure use of the five EBP steps: asking clinical questions, searching for and appraising research evidence, integrating the evidence into clinical practice and evaluating this process. The aim of this study was to compare self-reported EBP behaviour, abilities and barriers during clinical placements reported by five cohorts of final year physiotherapy students' with different EBP exposure across the 3-year bachelor programme.

Methods

A cross-sectional study was conducted among five cohorts (2006–2010) with third year physiotherapy students at a University College in Norway. In total, 246 students were eligible for this study. To collect data, we used a questionnaire with 42 items related to EBP behaviour, ability and barriers. Associations were investigated using the Spearman's rho (r).

Results

In total, 180 out of 246 third year physiotherapy students, who had recently completed a clinical placement, filled out the questionnaire (73 %). The association between the level of EBP exposure and students' self-reported EBP behaviour, abilities and barriers was low for most items in the questionnaire. Statistically significant correlations were found for eight items, related to information need, question formulation, use of checklists, searching and perceived ability to search for and critically appraise research evidence. The strongest correlation was found between the level of EBP exposure and ability to critically appraise research evidence (r = 0.41, p < 0.001).

Conclusions

An association between the level of EBP exposure and physiotherapy students' EBP behaviour was found for elements such as asking and searching, ability to search for and critically appraise research evidence, and experience of critical appraisal as a barrier. Further research need to explore strategies for EBP exposure throughout the curriculum, regarding content, timing, amount and type of training. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.