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Experiences of physical therapists working in the acute hospital setting: systematic review

Lau, Bonnie, Skinner, Elizabeth H., Lo, Kristin and Bearman, Margaret 2016, Experiences of physical therapists working in the acute hospital setting: systematic review, Physical therapy, vol. 96, no. 9, pp. 1317-1332, doi: 10.2522/ptj.20150261.

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Title Experiences of physical therapists working in the acute hospital setting: systematic review
Author(s) Lau, Bonnie
Skinner, Elizabeth H.
Lo, Kristin
Bearman, Margaret
Journal name Physical therapy
Volume number 96
Issue number 9
Start page 1317
End page 1332
Total pages 16
Publisher Oxford University Press
Place of publication Cary, N.C.
Publication date 2016-09-01
ISSN 0031-9023
1538-6724
Summary Background. Physical therapists working in acute care hospitals require unique skills to adapt to the challenging environment and short patient length of stay. Previous literature has reported burnout of clinicians and difficulty with staff retention; however, no systematic reviews have investigated qualitative literature in the area.

Purpose. The purpose of this study was to investigate the experiences of physical therapists working in acute hospitals.

Data Sources. Six databases (MEDLINE, CINAHL Plus, EMBASE, AMED, PsycINFO, and Sociological Abstracts) were searched up to and including September 30, 2015, using relevant terms.

Study Selection. Studies in English were selected if they included physical therapists working in an acute hospital setting, used qualitative methods, and contained themes or descriptive data relating to physical therapists’ experiences.

Data Extraction and Data Synthesis. Data extraction included the study authors and year, settings, participant characteristics, aims, and methods. Key themes, explanatory models/theories, and implications for policy and practice were extracted, and quality assessment was conducted. Thematic analysis was used to conduct qualitative synthesis.

Results. Eight articles were included. Overall, study quality was high. Four main themes were identified describing factors that influence physical therapists’ experience and clinical decision making: environmental/contextual factors, communication/relationships, the physical therapist as a person, and professional identity/role.

Limitations. Qualitative synthesis may be difficult to replicate. The majority of articles were from North America and Australia, limiting transferability of the findings.

Conclusions. The identified factors, which interact to influence the experiences of acute care physical therapists, should be considered by therapists and their managers to optimize the physical therapy role in acute care. Potential strategies include promotion of interprofessional and collegial relationships, clear delineation of the physical therapy role, multidisciplinary team member education, additional support staff, and innovative models of care to address funding and staff shortages.
Language eng
DOI 10.2522/ptj.20150261
Field of Research 110317 Physiotherapy
130108 Technical, Further and Workplace Education
1103 Clinical Sciences
1106 Human Movement And Sports Science
Socio Economic Objective 939908 Workforce Transition and Employment
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2016, American Physical Therapy Association
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30092760

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