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What supports physiotherapists’ use of research in clinical practice? A qualitative study in Sweden
Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Division of Community Medicine. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Physiotherapy. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6075-4432
Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Social Medicine and Public Health Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences. Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Division of Health Care Analysis.
2013 (English)In: Implementation Science, ISSN 1748-5908, Vol. 8Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]


Evidence-based practice has increasingly been recognized as a priority by professional physiotherapy organizations and influential researchers and clinicians in the field. Numerous studies in the past decade have documented that physiotherapists hold generally favorable attitudes to evidence-based practice and recognize the importance of using research to guide their clinical practice. Research has predominantly investigated barriers to research use. Less is known about the circumstances that actually support use of research by physiotherapists. This study explores the conditions at different system levels that physiotherapists in Sweden perceive to be supportive of their use of research in clinical practice.


Patients in Sweden do not need a referral from a physician to consult a physiotherapist and physiotherapists are entitled to choose and perform any assessment and treatment technique they find suitable for each patient. Eleven focus group interviews were conducted with 45 physiotherapists, each lasting between 90 and 110 minutes. An inductive approach was applied, using topics rather than questions to allow the participants to generate their own questions and pursue their own priorities within the framework of the aim. The data were analyzed using qualitative content analysis.


Analysis of the data yielded nine favorable conditions at three system levels supporting the participant’s use of research in clinical practice: two at the individual level (attitudes and motivation concerning research use; research-related knowledge and skills), four at the workplace level (leadership support; organizational culture; research-related resources; knowledge exchange) and three at the extra-organizational level (evidence-based practice guidelines; external meetings, networks, and conferences; academic research and education).


Supportive conditions for physiotherapists’ use of research exist at multiple interdependent levels, including the individual, workplace, and extra-organizational levels. Research use in physiotherapy appears to be an interactive and interpretative social process that involves a great deal of interaction with various people, including colleagues and patients.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
BioMed Central , 2013. Vol. 8
Keyword [en]
Physical therapy, Evidence-based practice, Research use, System levels, Attitudes, Clinical practice
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-93865DOI: 10.1186/1748-5908-8-31ISI: 000318418500001OAI: diva2:627335
Available from: 2013-06-11 Created: 2013-06-11 Last updated: 2015-10-23
In thesis
1. Evidence-Based Practice in Practice: Exploring Conditions for Using Research in Physiotherapy
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Evidence-Based Practice in Practice: Exploring Conditions for Using Research in Physiotherapy
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Research developments have led to increased opportunities for the use of improved diagnostic and treatment methods in physiotherapy and other areas of health care. The emergence of the evidence-based practice (EBP) movement has led to higher expectations for a more research-informed health care practice that integrates the best available research evidence with clinical experience and patient priorities and values. Physiotherapy research has grown exponentially, contributing to an increased interest in achieving a more evidence-based physiotherapy practice. However, implementation research has identified many individual and contextual barriers to research use. Strategies to achieve a more EBP tend to narrowly target individual practitioners to influence their knowledge, skills and attitudes concerning research use. However, there is an emerging recognition that contextual conditions such as leadership and culture are critical to successfully implementing EBP.

Against this background, the overall aim of this thesis was to explore conditions at different levels, from the individual level to the organizational level and beyond, for the use of research and implementation of an evidence-based physiotherapy practice. The thesis consists of four interrelated papers that address various aspects of the aim. Individual and focus group interviews were conducted with physiotherapists and managers within physiotherapy in various county councils in Sweden between 2011 and 2014. Data were analysed using qualitative content analysis, direct content analysis and hermeneutics.

It was found that many different types of motivation underlie physiotherapists’ use of research in their clinical practice, from amotivation (i.e. a lack of intention to engage in research use) to intrinsic motivation (research use is perceived as interesting and satisfying in itself). Most physiotherapists tend to view research use in favourable terms. Physiotherapists’ participation in a research project can yield many individual learning experiences that might contribute to a more research-informed physiotherapy practice. However, organizational learning was more limited. Numerous conditions at different levels (individual, workplace and extra-organizational levels) provide support for physiotherapists’ use of research in their clinical practice. However, physiotherapy leaders appear to contribute to a modest degree to establishing a culture that is conducive to implementing EBP in physiotherapy practice. Instead, EBP issues largely seem to depend on committed individual physiotherapists who keep to up to date with research in physiotherapy and inform colleagues about the latest research findings.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2015. 78 p.
Linköping University Medical Dissertations, ISSN 0345-0082 ; 1471
National Category
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-122172 (URN)10.3384/diss.diva-122172 (DOI)978-91-7519-019-8 (print) (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-11-06, Belladonna, Hus 511-001, Campus US, Linköping, 09:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2015-10-23 Created: 2015-10-23 Last updated: 2015-10-23Bibliographically approved

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