The essential structure of practising evidence based practice
: A phenomenological description of the experiences of physiotherapists

  • Simon Igo

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Health (DHealth)


Evidence based practice (EBP) is an educational paradigm that espouses that clinical decision making should be made through the judicious and conscientious use of best evidence. EBP is predicated on a fundamental principle that therapeutic knowledge is appraised and applied into practice with the ethical imperative to use such knowledge for the good of patient care. Despite the ubiquitous nature of EBP in health care little is known about how physiotherapists use this clinical decision making process and it is not clear as to which theoretical frameworks of practice and knowledge paradigms underpin physiotherapists application of EBP. Phenomenology seeks to uncover the internal consciousness of phenomena by describing and exploring the lived experience and explores the relationship between what exists in one’s consciousness and what exists in the objective world. Descriptive phenomenology was used in this thesis to gain an in depth understanding of how twelve physiotherapists applied EBP in the real and complex world of clinical practice with the objective to explore their experiences and to understand the essence of its practice.The findings in this study revealed a complex picture comprising of three separate but interrelated themes. Physiotherapists had developed a personal theory of EBP (Theme 1) that guided their behaviour and comprised of an ontological, epistemological and methodological structure. This theoretical and practice framework was uniquely individual and required a complex set of cognitive processes that included knowledge identification, transformation, translation and implementation in specific client situations and practice contexts (Theme 2: translation into practice). To add to this complexity this framework took place within intrapersonal, social and cultural milieus which influenced behaviour (Theme 3).The study concludes by conceptualising the findings and experiences of physiotherapists into models that could be used to assist educationalists, practitioners and researchers to promote evidence based practice in a pragmatic way.
Date of Award27 Jan 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorDavid Wainwright (Supervisor) & Chris Carpenter (Supervisor)


  • Evidence based practice

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