The novice versus the experienced clinician: Insights into the work of the physical therapist

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to develop a conceptual framework and a data-collection tool to begin a systematic analysis of the work of the physical therapist. The primary method of data collection was nonparticipant observation of physical therapist-patient treatment sessions. A team of two researchers performed each of the observations. Eight physical therapists, representing three levels of experience, were observed in four different adult outpatient orthopedic settings. Field notes constructed from the observations and transcribed data were used to develop coding categories. These categories were the basis for the development of five themes that describe some aspects of the therapeutic intervention: 1) how treatment time is allocated, 2) the types and uses of information gathered from the patient, 3) the impact of the therapeutic environment, 4) the degree of responsive therapeutic interaction, and 5) the therapist integration of nontherapeutic interaction with therapeutic interaction. These findings are a beginning for understanding the practice of physical therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)314-323
Number of pages10
JournalPhysical therapy
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 1990
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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