The use of practice evidence by Australian occupational therapists: Perspectives and actions

Craig Greber, Stephen Isbel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Evidence-based practice supports clinical decision-making by using multiple sources of evidence arising from research and practice. Research evidence develops through empirical study while practice evidence arises through clinical experience, client preferences, and the practice context. Although occupational therapists have embraced the paradigm of evidence-based practice, some studies have identified limits in the availability and use of research, which can lead to reliance on other forms of evidence. This study aimed to understand how Australian occupational therapists use practice evidence, manage potential bias, and enhance trustworthiness. Potential use of a critical appraisal tool for practice evidence was also explored. Methods: A 42-item questionnaire was developed to address the study aims. It consisted of a 7-point Likert scale, ordinal and free text questions. Likert scales were collapsed into binary scales and analysed using SPSS. Ordinal data were graphed and free text responses were analysed using manifest content analysis. Results: Most respondents (82%) indicated that practice evidence was an important informant of practice and is used alongside research evidence. Almost all respondents (98%) expressed confusion when reconciling discrepancies between research and practice evidence. There was general acknowledgement that practice evidence is prone to bias (82%), yet 92% were confident in trusting their own practice evidence. Most respondents (74.5%) undertook some measures to appraise practice evidence, and almost all respondents (90%) agreed they would refer to a critical appraisal tool that helped them evaluate practice evidence. Conclusion: Occupational therapists in this study routinely use practice evidence arising from their own experience, client perspectives, and their practice context to inform clinical decision-making. While they agreed that practice evidence was prone to bias and misinterpretation, they generally trusted their own practice evidence. Participants indicated they needed guidance to critically appraise their practice evidence and supported the development of a critical appraisal tool for this purpose.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalAustralian Occupational Therapy Journal
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Mar 2024


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