Delivery of Physical Therapy in the Acute Care Setting: A Population-Based Study

Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research and Institute on Aging, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 725 Airport Rd, CB 7590, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7590, USA.
Physical Therapy (Impact Factor: 2.53). 11/2011; 92(2):251-65. DOI: 10.2522/ptj.20100337
Source: PubMed


Population-based studies on physical therapy use in acute care are lacking.
The purpose of this study was to examine population-based, hospital discharge data from North Carolina to describe the demographic and diagnostic characteristics of individuals who receive physical therapy and, for common diagnostic subgroups, to identify factors associated with the receipt of and intensity of physical therapy use.
This was a cross-sectional, descriptive study.
Hospital discharge data for 2006-2007 from the 128 acute care hospitals in the state were examined to identify the most common diagnoses that receive physical therapy and to describe the characteristics of physical therapy users. For 2 of the most common diagnoses, logistic and linear regression analyses were conducted to identify factors associated with the receipt and intensity of physical therapy.
Of the more than 2 million people treated in acute care hospitals, 22.5% received physical therapy (mean age=66 years; 58% female). Individuals with osteoarthritis (admitted for joint replacement) and stroke were 2 of the most common patient types to receive physical therapy. Almost all individuals admitted for a joint replacement received physical therapy, with little between-hospital variation. Between-hospital variation in physical therapy use for stroke was greater. Demographic and hospital-related factors were associated with physical therapy use and physical therapy intensity for both diagnoses, after controlling for illness severity and comorbidities.
Data from only one state were examined, and the studied variables were limited.
The use and intensity of physical therapy for stroke and joint replacement in acute care hospitals in North Carolina vary by clinical and nonclinical factors. Reasons behind the association of hospital characteristics and physical therapy use need further investigation.

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Available from: Janet Freburger, Mar 23, 2014

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