Rob Herbert of the Centre for Evidence Based Physiotherapy addressing the WCPT General Meeting in Vancouver in 2007
Rob Herbert of the Centre for Evidence Based Physiotherapy addressing the WCPT General Meeting in Vancouver in 2007

Sources of PT online evidence grow and grow

Web-based information supporting evidence based practice in physical therapy is increasing rapidly, and it is now being widely used across the world.

Rob Herbert, Director of the Centre for Evidence Based Physiotherapy in Australia, reports a remarkable growth in PEDro – the Physiotherapy Evidence Database. This free, internet-based resource designed to help physical therapists rapidly access the best evidence of the effects of physiotherapy interventions now contains bibliographic details and abstracts of nearly 18,000 randomised trials, systematic reviews and evidence-based clinical practice guidelines in physical therapy.

“There has been a rapid expansion in the amount of high quality physiotherapy research in the past two decades,” he says. “Remarkably, the number of randomised controlled trials has doubled every three and a half years. This means that PEDro also doubled in size over that period.” 

Analysis has shown that PEDro is used by health professionals and health consumers from over 120 countries to answer more than 5,000 clinical questions per day.

Meanwhile, the American Physical Therapy Association’s “Hooked on Evidence” website now has a database of 6,200 article abstracts, thanks to the efforts of thousands of APTA members who have volunteered to enter articles using an online submission form. 

“Unique to the database is the calculation of treatment effect size using available data from the original article,” says David Scalzitti, Associate Director at APTA’s Research Department. “The database may be searched using keywords, or a clinician may select from over 140 clinical scenarios of conditions commonly seen by physical therapists.”

Now there are plans to expand Hooked on Evidence further. The scope of the database is being widened to include primary studies related to physical therapy diagnosis and prognosis. To assist clinicians with the expanding amount of physical therapy research, APTA has plans to develop additional resources to summarise and synthesise evidence for use in clinical practice.

The Centre for Evidence Based Physiotherapy in Maastricht, Holland, maintains a database with the top 500 full text physiotherapy articles, as rated by PEDro. The database can be searched or papers reviewed alphabetically by author. They are then accessible as pdfs. There is also access to clinical measurement tool information.

All these resources, and their relevance to physical therapists’ daily work, will be discussed at a symposium during the year’s WCPT Congress in Amsterdam. Entitled “Web-based resources to support evidence-based physiotherapy” the session will provide the opportunity for clinicians, researchers, educators, consumers/clients, health administrators and health policy makers to talk about the resources available, and generate strategies to improve access to physical therapy evidence.

The speakers will include Rob Herbert and David Scalzitti. Other speakers include Catherine Sherrington from the George Institute for International Health in Australia, Lucie Brosseau from the School of Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Ottawa, and Rob de Bie, Director of the Centre for Evidence Based Physiotherapy in Maastricht. Further details are available at http://www.wcpt.org/node/33401

The databases

PEDro Physiotherapy Evidence Database
www.pedro.org.au

Hooked on Evidence
Access to the database is provided to APTA members and subscribers. www.hookedonevidence.com/
International physical therapists may access the database through APTA’s International Partners programme. For further details see 
http://www.apta.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=International_Affairs1&TEMPLATE=/CM/HTMLDisplay.cfm&CONTENTID=20739
or email hookedonevidence@apta.org.

Centre for Evidence Based Physiotherapy, Maastricht
www.cebp.nl
Full text papers available at
www.cebp.nl/?NODE=82

Other health databases 
There is a wide range of other evidence databases available to health professionals. Details can be found on WCPT’s website at: www.wcpt.org/node/29618