Policy statement: Quality services

Policy type
Policy categories

A new version of this policy document was adopted at the General Meeting in May 2019. This will be available on our new website, which is due to launch later this year. A copy of the latest version of this document is available by contacting info@wcpt.org

The World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT) recognises that patients/clients, governments and funding agencies have a right to expect that the services provided by physical therapists will be consistent with national quality standards.

Quality services mean the provision of the best possible physical therapy at an appropriate cost, balancing patient/client, organisational and professional considerations. It involves considerations of:

  • equity
  • efficiency
  • effectiveness
  • appropriateness
  • acceptability
  • accessibility
  • availability
  • safety

To ensure optimal quality physical therapy services there is a need to:

  • utilise evidence based practice
  • manage change effectively
  • evaluate practice structures, processes and outcomes
  • monitor efficiency, effectiveness and safety
  • measure and respond to patient/client satisfaction
  • conduct research

WCPT encourages its member organisations to:

  • demonstrate leadership in quality issues by adopting WCPT standards of practice or developing practice standards and monitoring procedures
  • contribute to the development of professional tools, such as clinical guidelines, designed to facilitate evidence-based practice
  • work collaboratively across professions to raise standards of health services
  • explore opportunities for international collaboration in developing resources 


Clinical practice guidelines — "are statements that include recommendations intended to optimise patient care that are informed by a systematic review of evidence and an assessment of the benefits and harms of alternative care options". 1

Evidence based practice (EBP) — is an approach to practice wherein health professionals use the best available evidence from systematic research, integrating it with clinical expertise to make clinical decisions for service users, who may be individual patients/clients, carers and communities/populations. EBP values, enhances and builds on clinical expertise, knowledge of disease mechanisms, and pathophysiology. It involves complex and conscientious decision-making based not only on the available evidence but also on patient/client characteristics, situations, and preferences. It recognises that health services are individualised and ever changing and involves uncertainties and probabilities. 2-4

Standards of practice — are a collection of documents describing the professional consensus on the practise of physical therapists in any occupational setting. Standards reflect the collective judgement of the profession at a given point in time. 5



Approval, review and related policy information
Date adopted:

First adopted at the 13th General Meeting of WCPT June 1995.

Revised and re-approved at the 15th General Meeting of WCPT June 2003.

Revised and re-approved at the 16th General Meeting of WCPT June 2007.

Revised and re-approved at the 17th General Meeting of WCPT June 2011.

Revised and re-approved at the 18th General Meeting of WCPT May 2015.

Date for review: 2019
Related WCPT Policies:

WCPT policy statements:

  • Standards of physical therapy practice
  • Evidence based practice
  • Patients'/clients' rights in physical therapy

WCPT guideline:

Guideline for standards of physical therapy practice

  1. Institute of Medicine. Clinical Practice Guidelines We Can Trust. Washington, DC.: The National Academies Press; 2011. http://www.nap.edu/catalog/13058/clinical-practice-guidelines-we-can-trust (Access date 21st November 2014)
  2. Sackett DL, Rosenberg WMC, Gray JAM, Haynes RB, Richardson WS. Evidence based medicine: what it is and what it isn't. BMJ. 1996;312(7023):71-2.
  3. McKibbon KA. Evidence based practice. Bulletin of the Medical Library Association. 1998;86(3):396-401.
  4. Evidence Based Medicine Working Group. Evidence-based medicine. A new approach to teaching the practice of medicine. JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association. 1992;268(17):2420-5.
  5. Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. Quality Assurance Standards for physiotherapy service delivery. London, UK.: CSP; 2012. http://www.csp.org.uk/publications/quality-assurance-standards (Access date 3rd October 2016)


© World Confederation for Physical Therapy 2017