Towards Evidence-Based Practice: Investigating Attitudes, Practices and Perception of Undergraduate Physiotherapy Students at a Higher Education Institution in Abu Dhabi

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
Evidence-based practice (EBP) is an essential component in health care related practices. It is crucial for all students undertaking programmes in these areas to develop appropriate attitudes, practices and perceptions to enable them to operate effectively as professionals after training. A review of available literature shows a gap in research about physiotherapy students’ propensity to adopt EBP in the undergraduate clinical practice within the United Arab Emirates. The purpose of this study is to investigate physiotherapy students’ attitudes, practices and perceptions toward EBP at the beginning of their advanced clinical placement and after one year based on a study of a higher education institution offering Bachelor of Science in Physiotherapy in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. A mixed-methods approach was done using an explanatory sequential design. Consenting physiotherapy students and their clinical educators took part in the study. Quantitative data gathering constituted the first two stages of the study wherein a close-ended survey using a validated tool was provided to student participants (n=26) to establish their EBP profile before (baseline) and after one year of advanced clinical placement (post-ACP). Stage 3 of the study involved focus group interviews with the students (n=14) and key-informant interviews with their clinical educators (n=12) to further expound on the factors that lead to students’ propensity towards EBP. Findings of thematic analysis revealed (1) various clinical education strategies positively affecting and enhancing the attitudes, practices and perceptions of students toward EBP including clinical discourse and case presentation; (2) facilitators to EBP within the undergraduate clinical placement such as EBP-oriented clinical educators and availability of facilities for search while (3) barriers include delay of clinical education within the curriculum and lack of time and motivation; and (4) one of the institutional policies affecting the phenomenon is the span of treatment protocols covered by health insurance.
College students -- Attitudes., Physical therapy -- Study and teaching (Higher)., clinical education, physiotherapy, United Arab Emirates (UAE)