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Which Way Do We Go? Clinicians or Researchers?

Section Editor(s): Donovan, Nancy C. PhD, PT; Editor-in-Chief

Journal of Women’s Health Physical Therapy: September/December 2011 - Volume 35 - Issue 3 - p 93–94
doi: 10.1097/JWH.0b013e318239f979

I was recently hiking with a friend on a trail in Cuyahoga National Park in Ohio. After about one-half mile, we came upon a sign that informed us that we were still on the Ledges Trail. Curiously, there were 2 directional arrows that pointed in opposite directions for continuing on the trail. We pondered the situation and wondered aloud what we should do and then we both shrugged our shoulders. I then turned to the right, my friend turned to the left, and we stopped just short of bumping right into each other. We couldn't continue hiking for a bit because we were both laughing so hard (I am still laughing as I write this). As I was on the plane returning home from my vacation, I was again laughing to myself about the incident and then I had an “Aha!” moment. What happened to us is analogous to what clinicians and researchers often do. Clinicians make their way along the decision trail based on what they think will be the most effective interventions for their patients, and researchers make their way along the investigation trail based on what they think are appropriate questions to generate new knowledge. Unfortunately, they, too, stop just short of bumping into one another. Historically, clinicians and researchers have gone their separate ways with each group believing that they don't really need to interact with each other. Clinicians wonder why researchers aren't asking the right questions that will assist them in their clinical work, and researchers wonder why clinicians aren't reading their published manuscripts. I think that these 2 groups need not to stop short of bumping into one another—they actually really need to bump into each other! The results will be different from the previously described event, which resulted in our laughing so hard that we couldn't speak. Rather, useful information will be disseminated to all clinicians and researchers. (It would be great if they also have a few laughs along the way.) The manuscripts that I read that have involved teamwork between clinicians and researchers consistently result in new knowledge that can be disseminated to help clinicians know that their intervention choices have the best chance at providing efficient and effective care, and that their choices are supported by more than anecdotes. Very often clinicians have “I wonder why” or “I wonder if” moments during their workday. These “wonderings” can often be turned into questions for which researchers can design appropriate methodologies to generate useful answers.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines bump as “To knock to a new position.”1 I think that if the clinicians and researchers do not turn away from one another, our discipline of physical therapy will be “knocked” or elevated to a new position. So, while the “bump” has a history as a way to dance in the 1970s, I think that clinicians and researchers should get together and “do the bump.”

This issue of the Journal of Women's Health Physical Therapy does indeed provide new knowledge that I believe will be useful to clinicians. Dawn Underwood and Kathryn Stolp walk us through a case report for a patient who had been referred with a diagnosis of pelvic floor tension myalgia. Sandra Hilton and Carolyn Vandyken take us on an exploration of the puzzle of pelvic pain. Lisa Fleisher and her colleagues give us direction with their research on the effects of weight bearing and resistance exercises for postmenopausal women with low bone mass.

I have also included in this issue the abstracts for the platforms and posters that will be presented at the Combined Sections Meeting in February 2012. I personally am looking forward to stopping just short of bumping into friends and colleagues at the Combined Sections Meeting and going to the presentations to “knock” my knowledge to a new position. O

Nancy C. Donovan, PhD, PT


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1. The American Heritage Dictionary. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company; 1996.
Copyright © 2011 Section on Women's Health, American Physical Therapy Association