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A structured process to develop scenarios for use in evaluation of an evidence-based approach in clinical decision making

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Patricia J Manns, Johanna DarrahDepartment of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, CanadaBackground and purpose: Scenarios are used as the basis from which to evaluate the use of the components of evidence-based practice in decision making, yet there are few examples of a standardized process of scenario writing. The aim of this paper is to describe a step-by-step scenario writing method used in the context of the authors’ curriculum research study.Methods: Scenario writing teams included one physical therapy clinician and one academic staff member. There were four steps in the scenario development process: (1) identify prevalent condition and brainstorm interventions; (2) literature search; (3) develop scenario framework; and (4) write scenario.Results: Scenarios focused only on interventions, not diagnostic or prognostic problems. The process led to two types of scenarios – ones that provided an intervention with strong research evidence and others where the intervention had weak evidence to support its use. The end product of the process was a scenario that incorporates aspects of evidence-based decision making and can be used as the basis for evaluation.Conclusion: The use of scenarios has been very helpful to capture therapists’ reasoning processes. The scenario development process was applied in an education context as part of a final evaluation of graduating clinical physical therapy students.Keywords: physical therapists, clinical decision making, evaluation, curriculum

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