Physical Therapy Clinic Communicates With Patients and Clinicians With AHRQ Tool

July 2010

For over 15 years, Kauffman-Gamber Physical Therapy in Pennsylvania has used AHRQ's Research Activities as a reliable source of evidence-based information in communicating with both clinicians and patients.

Timothy L. Kauffman, PhD, PT, says, "I find this publication invaluable as a diverse collection of pertinent health care and societal issues. The work published in Research Activities frequently becomes part of our office staff meetings." With a professional staff of five physical therapists and four physical therapist assistants, the clinics—one in Lancaster and another in Millersville—provide approximately 1,200 patient treatments monthly.

As an example of how valuable the publication is to his practice, Kauffman found the October 2009 article on back pain and exercise especially useful to share with physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. The AHRQ-funded research findings in that issue helped demonstrate and support his clinic's treatment approach as important in promoting good patient outcomes.

The cited research, led by Timothy Carey, MD, MPH, and colleagues at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, showed that treatment by physical therapists or chiropractors was the strongest predictor of a patient's receiving an exercise prescription. In addition, compared with physicians and chiropractors, physical therapists were more likely to supervise the exercise program and prescribe strengthening and stretching exercises. The research also showed that physicians rely too much on prescribing narcotics and not enough on prescribing specific exercises to treat back and neck pain. Kauffman says, "This information is very important and must get out to other providers."

In addition to using Research Activities with his physical therapy staff and other clinicians, Kauffman uses the information in discussions with patients. He finds it helpful in educating patients about the value of a specific therapeutic exercise program—tailored to their individual situation—as an essential part of their physical therapy plan of care.

Impact Case Study Identifier: 
AHRQ Product(s): Research Activities
Topics(s): Outcomes, Prevention
Geographic Location: Pennsylvania
Implementer: Kauffman-Gamber Physical Therapy
Date: 07/01/2010

Carey TS, Freburger JK, Holmes GM, et al. A long way to go: practice patterns and evidence in chronic low back pain care. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 2009;34(7):718-24.

Freburger JK, Carey TS, Holmes GM, et al. Exercise prescription for chronic back or neck pain: who prescribes it? Who gets it? What is prescribed? Arthritis Rheum 2009;61(2):192-200.

Research Activities, October 2009. AHRQ Publication No. 10-RA001. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.

Page last reviewed October 2014