• To help protect against the risk of fraud, abuse, and waste, physical therapists incorporate evidence-based resources in clinical decision making whenever possible. Clinical practice guidelines are intended to help clinicians improve patient outcomes and avoid unwarranted variation in practice. Systematic reviews assess the existing published research to determine whether there is conclusive evidence to support the use of a specific treatment or intervention. Valid and reliable outcome measures can help the physical therapist be more confident in making decisions about a patient’s or client’s plan of care.

    APTA offers access to the following evidence-based resources through www.PTNow.org.

    Clinical Practice Guidelines

    Clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) exist to assist in clinical decision making, not to take the place of clinician judgment. The CPGs accessed through PTNow.org are:

    • Based on a systematic review of the evidence, not just "expert opinion"
    • No more than 5 years old
    • Published by a health care association, organization, or society, not by single individuals or a corporation with financial conflicts of interest

    If you have a question about a particular guideline, contact ptnow@apta.org, and enter "CPG Question" in the subject line.

    Cochrane Systematic Reviews

    The Cochrane Library is a collection of "gold standard" databases that contain high-quality, independently generated evidence to inform health care decision making. Cochrane reviews represent a high level of evidence on which to base clinical treatment decisions.

    APTA members can access full-text Cochrane Systematic Reviews through www.ptnow.org/SystematicReviews.

    Tests & Measures

    As with all health care disciplines, tests and outcome measures with established validity and reliability can make the provider’s job easier and clinical decision making more transparent.

    Resources for tests and measures include www.RehabMeasures.org and strokengine.ca/assess.Through PTNow.org, APTA members can find downloadable tests and measures that have been identified for use in functional limitation reporting, along with essential data on validity, reliability, minimal detectable change, and minimally clinically important difference. Many of the tests have how-to videos.

    Related Resources

    Other helpful online resources for CPGs, randomized controlled trials, systematic reviews, and tests and measures include:

    Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro)

    Rehabilitation Measures Database

    National Guideline Clearinghouse


    Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Evidence

  • Last Updated: 9/11/2014
    Contact: practice-dept@apta.org