Work disability prevention knowledge transfer initiatives for physical therapists in Alberta

Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Doug Gross
University of Alberta

The most effective methods of knowledge transfer (KT) for rehabilitation providers are still unknown. Due to an observed mismatch between clinical practice and current evidence in work disability prevention by physical therapists, clinician- and system-level KT initiatives aimed at fostering best practice have been developed and implemented in Alberta.

The clinician-level project included development and dissemination of a best practice resource guide and “tool kit” for work disability prevention by physical therapists, creation of a network of peer-selected Educationally Influential physical therapists, province-wide seminars for practicing clinicians, and use of these resources in the academic training curriculum. The system-level initiative involved a soft tissue injury continuum of care model designed by the Workers’ Compensation Board of Alberta that involved staged, evidence-based application of various types of physical therapy and rehabilitation services. Both projects were evaluated for their impact on return-to-work outcomes.
 
Implementation of a clinician-level KT initiative appears to have had little impact on clinical practice patterns or workers’ compensation outcomes.  However, the system-level continuum of care model appears to have resulted in more sustained return-to-work and dramatic cost savings.

Future KT interventions for rehabilitation professionals should consider the funding structures and organizational culture of the settings in which they practice, which may be a barrier or facilitator of research uptake.