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Table 5 Side-by-side comparison of summarised information from the Evidence Based Practice (EBP) quantitative and qualitative components

From: Changes in physiotherapy students’ knowledge and perceptions of EBP from first year to graduation: a mixed methods study

Findings Quantitative questionnaires Qualitative focus groups Congruence
Relevance: the value, emphasis and importance placed on EBP Students rating of EBP relevance increased over the 4 year program.
Mean increase 13.6 (95% CI: 11.7–15.5)
Raw p value p ≤ 0.001
ES 2.29 increase
The perceived relevance of EBP increased over the 4 year program
• Initial experience of EBP education as difficult, uninteresting and irrelevant “what’s the point and why are we doing this.”
• By graduation EBP was considered highly important “…really important and it’s interesting and it guides our practice and it’s really helpful.”
Terminology: understanding of common research terms Students rating of their understanding of terminology increased over the 3 years.
Mean increase 31.3 (95% CI: 27.7–35.0)
Raw p value p ≤ 0.001
ES 3.13 increase
While participants perceived an increase in understanding general research principles over the program, statistical terminology remained a problem for many
• Rote learning early in the course was not initially retained
• Ongoing poor understanding of statistical terminology. “I’m not that confident that I know what all the numbers mean in the result section. Sometimes I look at that and think, ‘I’ll just skip over that’…”
divergent for statistical terminology
Confidence: perception of ability with EBP skills Students rating of their confidence increased over the 3 years.
Mean increase 11.3 (95% CI: 9.1–13.4)
Raw p value p ≤ 0.001
ES 1.67 increase
Participants perceived increased confidence in EBP skills over the program
• Initially had no awareness or skills regarding research within physiotherapy
• By graduation they were confident of possessing the knowledge and skills they would need in the work place
Practice: the use of EBP in clinical situations Students rating of their understanding of practice use increased over the 3 years.
Mean increase 9.7 (95% CI: 7.7–11.6)
Raw p value p ≤ 0.001
ES 1.8 increase
Participants reported a big increase in their understanding of EBP use in practice
• Initially naïve regarding EBP in physiotherapy
• By graduation they were unanimous that EBP was essential to their clinical work
Sympathy: perception of the compatibility of EBP with professional work Students rating of sympathy increased over the 3 years.
Mean increase 1.8 (95% CI: 0.5–3.2)
Raw p value p = 0.008
ES 0.49 increase
Participants’ understanding of the compatibility of EBP with professional work increase greatly over the program
• No initial appreciation of EBP or research within physiotherapy
“…it’s such a big part of our degree that you can’t go into practice and not do it now”
• Some uncertainly expressed about how EBP would fit with busy day-to-day professional work
Actual Knowledge: measure on a knowledge test Students’ actual knowledge increased over the 3 years.
Mean increase 6.2 (95% CI: 5.6–6.8)
Raw p value p ≤ 0.001
ES 4.3 increase
No data available only quantitative results available
Need for relevance and context No data available Participants understanding and appreciation of EBP accelerated in the final years, once it became more clinically relevant to them
Learning by doing –understanding accelerated once clinical placements commenced
• Need more clinical examples earlier in the EBP course
• Need an earlier appreciation of the context and relevance of EBP to physiotherapy practice
• Undertaking SRs assisted context and learning
• Positive EBP role models reinforced learning
only qualitative results available
Getting the timing right No data available Participants identified optimal times to receive particular EBP training or information
• Evidence searching, appraisal and Endnote skills are needed early in the program
• All skills needed prior to clinical placements
only qualitative results available
  1. CI confidence interval, ES effect size