Evidence Based Practice Profiles of Physical Therapy Student Interns and Their Clinical Instructors
Purpose/Hypothesis: Guidelines suggest that the principles of evidence based practice (EBP) should be integrated throughout both the didactic and clinical portions of the curriculum. Success in accomplishing this goal requires that Clinical Instructors (CIs) are capable of modelling the skills and behaviors of EBP that are expected of students during their clinical internships. While previous studies have surveyed the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors among general populations of students and physical therapists, few have focused specifically on physical therapists who serve as CIs and the students they supervise. The purpose of this study was to compare self-perceived knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, and confidence levels of students with those of CIs regarding EBP. Number of Subjects: 136 Materials and Methods: The online survey used in this study was a compilation of three surveys used in previous research studies and was intended to measure knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, and confidence regarding the ability to apply the principles of EBP. Participants were current DPT students and practicing physical therapists who had served as CIs for students in our program within the previous 5 years. 419 CIs were initially invited to participate in the study, with 101 responding (mean age = 38.4 ± 8.8 years). Thirty-five DPT students (mean age = 24.3 ± 2.6 years) completed the same survey during the final week of didactic coursework prior to beginning their clinical internships. Descriptive statistics and independent t-tests were used to compare survey results between students and CIs. Regression analysis was used to explore which demographic factors were most closely associated with higher survey scores among CIs. Results: CIs rated themselves significantly higher than students (mean difference = 5.9%) on the 11-item Confidence scale (P = .009). However, average scores on the 19-item Terminology scale were higher for students than for CIs (mean difference = 6.0%; P = .008). No difference was found between groups on the composite score of the 26-item Knowledge, Attitude, and Behavior (KAB) scale (P = .477), although scores within the Outcome/Decision domain were significantly higher among students than CIs (mean difference = 6.6%; P = .002). Among CIs, additional training in EBP beyond entry-level preparation was significantly associated with higher scores on all three scales. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors regarding the ability of CIs to implement the principles of EBP are similar to those of the students they supervise. While CIs perceived a modestly higher level of confidence in their ability to integrate EBP into daily practice, their understanding of common research and statistical terms related to EBP was somewhat lower. Clinical Relevance: The responsibility for teaching the principles of EBP extends to physical therapists who serve as CIs for students during clinical internships. EBP knowledge and skills of CIs may be important factors determining their ability to model EBP effectively. Additional training in EBP may be necessary to ensure that CIs have the educational background and confidence to act effectively in this role.