Description of specialty practice-10 years onward: The changes in geriatric physical therapy


Aurora Health at Home


Background: An analysis of practice is conducted by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) every 10 years to revalidate, update, and revise the description of specialty practice (DSP) for each specialty. The Geriatric Specialty Council recently conducted an analysis of practice and revised its content consistent with established procedures by the ABPTS.

Purpose: The purpose of this article is threefold: first, to describe the process of the most recent practice analysis; second, to report revisions to the description of specialty practice based on the analysis of practice; and third, to identify elements of practice that define current specialist practice in geriatric physical therapy.

Methods: A 10-member committee of subject matter experts (SMEs) and a psychometric consultant developed a survey instrument addressing geriatric physical therapy specialty practice areas. The survey was initially pilot-tested and subsequently administered online to a sample of 801 board-certified geriatric clinical specialists. The consultant facilitated the consensus process to determine decision rules in selecting the final competencies describing current geriatric physical therapy specialty practice.

Results: A total of 372 respondents fully or partially completed the survey, resulting in a response rate of 46.4%. Based on a priori decision rules regarding survey data, consensus of the group of SMEs, and input from the ABPTS, the DSP for geriatric physical therapy specialty practice was revised. Revisions (elimination [-] of prior items and addition [+] of new items) were made in Section 1: Knowledge Areas (-8 and +6), in Section 2: Professional Roles, Responsibilities, and Values (-14 and +4), and Section 3: Practice Expectations (-53 and +28).

Conclusion: The revised DSP will be used as the basis for the development of the examination blueprint for the specialist examination in geriatric physical therapy and the curricula for residency programs in geriatric physical therapy.

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