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Is keep/refer decision making an integral part of national guidelines for the physiotherapy profession within Europe? A review

Lackenbauer, W and Janssen, J and Roddam, H and Selfe, James (2017) Is keep/refer decision making an integral part of national guidelines for the physiotherapy profession within Europe? A review. Physiotherapy (United Kingdom), 103 (4). pp. 352-360. ISSN 0031-9406

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Abstract

© 2017 Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. Background: Keep/refer decision as the ability to independently determine whether a patient's condition is suitable for physiotherapy management (keep) or not (refer), is regarded as an core element in the World Confederation of Physical Therapists' (WCPT) Guideline for Standards of Physical Therapy Practice. However, it is currently unknown how individual European countries have implemented this in their national guidelines. Objectives: To determine if keep/refer decision making abilities are an integral part of national guidelines for the physiotherapy profession of member countries of the European Network of Physiotherapy in Higher Education (ENPHE). Data sources: A review was performed including medical databases, the grey literature and personal correspondence with professional ENPHE member associations. To gain the information of interest, all eligible documents were reviewed. Results: 11 national guidelines for the physiotherapy profession could be obtained. Two additional member associations use European guidelines as their national ones. Despite the fact that in the WCPT guidelines keep/refer decision making abilities are clearly described as a core element, there exists huge inconsistency as to how various European (with direct and non direct access systems) countries have included them in their national guidelines. Conclusion: Despite the fact that most ENPHE member countries deem a close collaboration between health care professionals important and that physiotherapists should know the limitation of their expertise, keep/refer decision making abilities as explicitly stated in the WCPT guidelines were not included in the majority of guidelines that were reviewed.

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