Attribute dimensions that distinguish master and novice physical therapy clinicians in orthopedic settings

G. M. Jensen, K. F. Shepard, J. Gwyer, L. M. Hack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


The purpose of this qualitative case study was to further investigate the work of master and novice clinicians within the practice setting. The sample consisted of three master clinicians and three novice clinicians practicing in orthopedic outpatient physical therapy settings in three different regions of the United States. Data collection by three researchers included observation of each clinician treating at least three patients, audiotaping of all treatment sessions, interviews with clinicians and patients, and a review of patient records. Analysis of the data within and across cases revealed five attribute dimensions that distinguished the master clinician from the novice clinician. One attribute dimension (ie, confidence in predicting patient outcomes) related to knowledge, and four attribute dimensions (ie, ability to control the environment, evaluation and use of patient illness and disease data, focus of verbal and nonverbal communication with patients, and importance of teaching to hands-on care) related to improvisational performance. Further investigations are needed to confirm these findings and add to the body of knowledge concerning the parameters of physical therapy that may affect the efficacy and quality of patient care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)711-722
Number of pages12
JournalPhysical therapy
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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