Introduction: For evidence-based practice to occur in patient management or clinical instruction, a knowledge of evidence-based practice principles is needed, including how to retrieve, appraise, and apply evidence. Attitudes and beliefs are also important, since for effective change in practice to occur it must be consistent with beliefs and needs. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the evidence-based practice beliefs and knowledge of physical therapist clinical instructors and to determine whether differences in self-reported beliefs or knowledge existed based upon respondent characteristics of highest degree, age, association membership, and certification. Methods: For this cross-sectional descriptive study an electronic survey was used to collect data on respondent characteristics and evidence-based practice beliefs and knowledge. Results: Respondents were 376 physical therapists who were clinical instructors. A majority of respondents reported positive beliefs about evidence-based practice: welcome questions on practice (88.5 %, n = 333); fundamental to practice (89.7%, n = 337); practice changed because of evidence (81.1%, n = 305). From rating options of poor, fair, good, very good, and excellent, respondents most often selected good to describe knowledge level: formulate question 39.6% (n = 149); retrieve evidence 39.4% (n = 148); appraise evidence 44.1% (n = 166); and apply evidence 40.4% (n = 152). Nearly half of the respondents reported as either very good or excellent the ability to apply evidence (49.4%, n = 186). There were differences in evidence-based practice beliefs (degree H = 10.152, p = .038; membership z = 4.721, p = H = 27.712, p = z = 2.188, p = .03; certification z = 4.194, p = Conclusion: Respondents frequently reported positive beliefs about evidence-based practice and the possession of evidence-based practice knowledge. However, there were respondents who reported negative beliefs such as disagreeing that new evidence is important. There were wide variations in reported evidence-based practice knowledge. The largest percentage of respondents rated knowledge as good, the middle or ‘average’ rating on the five-point scale. There were differences in evidence-based practice beliefs and knowledge between groups for highest degree, association membership, and specialty certification.

Author Bio(s)

  • Debra A. Bierwas PT, DPT, DHSc, is an Assistant Professor and Director of Clinical Education in the Physical Therapy program at Midwestern University - Glendale, Arizona.
  • Joan Leafman, PhD, is an Associate Professor at A.T. Still University in Mesa Arizona.
  • Donald K. Shaw PT, PhD, D.Min, FAACVR, is a Professor in Physical Therapy at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire.




Submission Location


To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.