Lessons Learned After Integrating the Five Steps of Evidence-Based Practice Into a Doctor of Physical Therapy Curriculum : Journal of Physical Therapy Education

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Lessons Learned After Integrating the Five Steps of Evidence-Based Practice Into a Doctor of Physical Therapy Curriculum

Lis, Angela PT, PhD; Snowdon, Lauren PT, DPT, EdD; Downey, Kyle MLIS

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Journal of Physical Therapy Education 37(2):p 127-131, June 2023. | DOI: 10.1097/JTE.0000000000000269


Background and Purpose. 

Teaching evidence-based practice (EBP) has become a standard curricular goal for Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) education programs. In 2014, the American Physical Therapy Association published a consensus document to provide guidance on curricular objectives for teaching EBP in entry-level DPT programs. The document reinforced the need to promote skills related to the efficient and critical consumption of published evidence. The purpose of this case report is to describe the collaborative process of integrating the EBP guidelines in one university's DPT curriculum.

Case Description. 

Faculty of EBP courses, in collaboration with a health sciences librarian, worked collaboratively to review and redesign the courses that teach and promote the skills required for an efficient EBP entry-level clinician, using the EBP guidelines as a reference document. Integrating the guidelines, specifically the five steps of teaching EBP, required creating a curricular thread for both the didactic and the clinical portions of the program, the development of standardized tools to optimize the students’ learning, promotion of literature search and appraisal skills, and designing instructional activities, assignments, and standardized rubrics.


The effectiveness of the curricular integration process was evaluated using students’ self-efficacy with the acquired EBP skills. Data indicated students who participated in the modified curriculum perceived to have achieved all terminal objectives for each of the EBP steps.


This case study highlights the benefits of progressive and early exposure to EBP to facilitate integration into clinical practice. Additionally, it reinforced the idea of EBP as a learnable skill that requires practice and experiential learning.


It is feasible to successfully integrate EBP guidelines into a physical therapist program.

© 2023 Academy of Physical Therapy Education, APTA

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