An investigation of outcome measures and interventions utilized by physical therapists for fall prevention in community dwelling older adults who have gait and balance problems
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The purpose of this study was to identify the outcome measures and interventions that physical therapists are utilizing for fall prevention when working with older adults who have balance disorders. Data describing the outcome measures and interventions were gathered using a newly designed online survey. The participants in this study were physical therapists who were presently practicing in the states of California, Florida, New York, Ohio, and Texas. The newly designed survey was pilot tested for test-retest reliability and content and face validity prior to full sample distribution. The survey was made available to the participants through PsychData, an academic-based survey service that provides online research services. A series of analyses included crosstab analyses using Pearson's chi-square (χ2) tests of independence, Pearson's product moment correlations, independent samples t-tests and analysis of variance (ANOVAs) analyses followed by a post hoc comparison test, Tukey's HSD test. The findings suggest the majority of the best practice outcome measures and interventions were not utilized. In addition, participants who had been practicing longer, women, and those whose entry level degree was a baccalaureate utilized significantly more interventions. The participants who had a focus in orthopedics used significantly fewer outcome measures and interventions. A follow up qualitative study is needed to explore physical therapists' attitudes and rationale regarding outcome measures and interventions for fall prevention. The APTA Vision 2020 projects that by the year 2020, physical therapy services will be provided by physical therapists who are doctors of physical therapy and who are guided by life-long learning and who will render evidence-based services. The results of this study indicate that there may be significant differences in the actual practice of physical therapy and the recommended practice suggested by the research evidence, the Guide To Physical Therapist Practice and projected by the APTA Vision 2020.