Teaching evidence-based practice to physiotherapy students in Italy: a cross sectional study

Leonardo Piano*, Alessandro Chiarotto, Marco Mascarello, Andrea Turolla, Simone Cecchetto, Silvia Gianola, Greta Castellini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Background: 

Evidence-based practice (EBP) is being rapidly adopted by the Italian physiotherapy community, although a knowledge gap persists at clinical level with consequent lack of integration of EBP into ground roots practice. Teaching of EBP during the Bachelor of Science (BSc) undergraduate course in physiotherapy likely has a vital role to play in the spread of knowledge, providing a grounding in the fundamental concepts of EBP. The aim of the present study was to investigate the prevalence of EBP educational content in Italian BSc courses in physiotherapy. 

Methods: 

This is a cross-sectional study during which characteristics of EBP teaching in BSc degree courses of physiotherapy in Italy were collected from institutional websites during the period May to September 2021 with an update in August 2022. We used the STrengthening the Reporting of Observational studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) guidelines for our manuscript.

Results: 

Forty-two physiotherapy BSc degree programs were retrieved, accounting for all the BSc delivered in the 2021–2022 academic year. Fourteen of these (33.3%) did not report EBP content. Northern universities provided EBP content in 16 out of 18 (88%) degree courses. Central Italian universities provided EBP content in 6 out of 9 (66.6%) degree courses. Southern universities delivered EBP content in 3 out of 9 (33.3%) degree courses. The universities of Sicily and Sardinia provided EBP content in 2 out of 5 (40%) degree courses. The degree courses taught in public universities were more likely to contain EBP material (25 out of 37, 67.4%), compared to those taught within the private system (3 out of 5, 60%). 

Conclusions: 

The prevalence of EBP content within physiotherapy BSc degree programs in Italy can be considered suboptimal, with both regional differences and according to the system (public vs private). The results of this study could be used as a stimulus for increasing investment in the teaching of EBP in Italian physiotherapy degree courses, thereby improving educational standards.

Original languageEnglish
Article number19
Pages (from-to)19
JournalArchives of Physiotherapy
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

© 2023. Italian Society of Physiotherapy.

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