The welcome screen of the Hooked on Evidence database.

Physical therapists now have the evidence at their fingertips – for free

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) has made its Hooked on Evidence resource available to all physical therapists. The database now joins an array of freely available online resources about the evidence behind interventions that are specific to physical therapy.

The Hooked on Evidence resource includes extracts of articles related to physical therapy interventions that have been entered into the database by volunteer contributors. It is the APTA’s “grassroots” effort to develop a database on current research evidence on the effectiveness of physical therapy interventions – prompted by a concern that clinicians lacked access to the knowledge available from current research, hindering evidence based practice (EBP).

This database now joins PEDro (the Physiotherapy Evidence Database), produced by the Centre of Evidence-Based Physiotherapy at the George Institute for Global Health in Australia, as a free EBP resource for all physical therapists to use. PEDro contains details of over 23,000 randomised trials, systematic reviews and clinical practice guidelines in physiotherapy, independently assessed for quality. Quality ratings are used to guide users to trials that are more likely to be valid.

There are a wide range of other online resources for making research available and promoting evidence based practice, all of which can be accessed through the WCPT website at www.wcpt.org/ebp

Tracy Bury, WCPT’s Director of Professional Policy, points out that whereas 20 years ago it took some digging for physical therapists to find evidence on which to base their practice, there are now many free and easily accessed resources available to help them identify effective interventions.

“The amount of information available now is much better, but that can also be daunting,” she says. “You have to find the resources that are most reliable, effective and easy to use within your day to day practice.”

There are now modern wikis such as Physiopedia available, alongside databases of quality assessed evidence, and comprehensive but non-reviewed resources. 

“All of them offer something slightly different,” says Tracy Bury. “We need to be able to access the right ones at the right time, aware of what they can do and what their limitations are. Evidence based practice is at the heart of what we do, so this increasing accessibility wherever we practise or study is extremely important.”

Related to this story