Skip to Main Content

Physical Therapist Assistant ( PTA ) Program Research Guide

This guide will help you find reliable information to help with your research related to physical therapy.

What is Evidence-Based Practice?

Evidence-based Practice

Evidence-based practice, also called Evidence-Based Medicine, is a systematic process of appraising and using current research findings. It is a step-by-step process that includes formulating a clear clinical question of patient needs, searching the current literature, evaluating the literature and deciding which studies are valid and useful to the patient, applying the findings to the patient's care, and then evaluating the outcome.

Evidence Hierarchy

The evidence hierarchy pyramid is a visual representation of the strength of different research study designs. It can be helpful to think about evidence as a pyramid – not all study designs and resource types are created equal.

Pyramid illustration of types of evidence. The base of the pyramid is background information and expert opinion. The next three levels are defined as unfiltered information. They include, moving up the pyramid, case-controlled studies, case series, and reports. The next three levels, moving up to the peak of the pyramid, are defined as filtered information. Moving up, the layers are critically-appraised individual articles and article synopses, critically-appraised topics or evidence syntheses and guidelines, and finally, at the peak, systematic reviews

To find out more, visit Evidence-Based Practice licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Systematic Reviews

A systematic review focuses on a single question and tries to identify, appraise, select and synthesize all high-quality research evidence relevant to that question. It often uses the same techniques as the meta-analysis to combine valid research studies. The seven steps for preparing a systematic review as outlined by the Cochrane Handbook are: formulating the problem, locating & selecting studies, critical appraisal of the studies, collecting data, analyzing & presenting results, interpreting the results, improving & updating the systematic review.

Find other definitions from University of North Texas Health Science Center Library.

Evidence-Based Reviews

More on Evidence-Based Practice

St. Louis Community College Libraries

Florissant Valley Campus Library
3400 Pershall Rd.
Ferguson, MO 63135-1408
Phone: 314-513-4514

Forest Park Campus Library
5600 Oakland
St. Louis, MO 63110-1316
Phone: 314-644-9210

Meramec Campus Library
11333 Big Bend Road
St. Louis, MO 63122-5720
Phone: 314-984-7797

Wildwood Campus Library
2645 Generations Drive
Wildwood, MO 63040-1168
Phone: 636-422-2000