The purposes of this study were to examine changes in the use of standardized outcome measures by practising physiotherapists in Ireland and to compare those trends to the results of a similar survey conducted previously in Canada.
A survey methodology was employed. The review of practice occurred at two points in time. Senior clinical physiotherapists working with older people participated. Questions were asked about the use of standardized outcome measures, the nature and pattern of their use, and the level of confidence the respondents had in using such measures.
The results chart the changes in practice over a 5-year period. Although there was an increase in the use of standardized outcome measures, the respondents acknowledged barriers to their systematic use in routine practice (e.g., lack of time, resources/administrative support). There was a lack of professional consensus on what instruments to use in general, as well as which to use for particular client groups. Concern was expressed that none of the available instruments met their clients’ needs. Where possible and appropriate, comparison was made between the data from the 2003 Irish study and a survey of Canadian physiotherapists conducted in 1998.
This review of practice illustrates that changes that have occurred in Ireland in the use of standardized outcome measures are similar to those that have occurred in Canada, but barriers remain to their complete integration into clinical practice and clinical decision making.