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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Validation of the modified Fresno Test: assessing physical therapists' evidence based practice knowledge and skills

Julie K Tilson

Author Affiliations

Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA

BMC Medical Education 2010, 10:38  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-10-38

Published: 25 May 2010



Health care educators need valid and reliable tools to assess evidence based practice (EBP) knowledge and skills. Such instruments have yet to be developed for use among physical therapists. The Fresno Test (FT) has been validated only among general practitioners and occupational therapists and does not assess integration of research evidence with patient perspectives and clinical expertise. The purpose of this study was to develop and validate a modified FT to assess EBP knowledge and skills relevant to physical therapist (PT) practice.


The FT was modified to include PT-specific content and two new questions to assess integration of patient perspectives and clinical expertise with research evidence. An expert panel reviewed the test for content validity. A cross-sectional cohort representing three training levels (EBP-novice students, EBP-trained students, EBP-expert faculty) completed the test. Two blinded raters, not involved in test development, independently scored each test. Construct validity was assessed through analysis of variance for linear trends among known groups. Inter and intra-rater reliability, internal consistency, item discrimination index, item total correlation, and difficulty were analyzed.


Among 108 participants (31 EBP-novice students, 50 EBP-trained students, and 27 EBP-expert faculty), there was a statistically significant (p < 0.0001) difference in total score corresponding to training level. Total score reliability and psychometric properties of items modified for discipline-specific content were excellent [inter-rater (ICC (2,1)] = 0.91); intra-rater (ICC (2,1)] = 0.95, 0.96)]. Cronbach's α was 0.78. Of the two new items, only one had strong psychometric properties.


The 13-item modified FT presented here is a valid, reliable assessment of physical therapists' EBP knowledge and skills. One new item assesses integration of patient perspective as part of the EBP model. Educators and researchers may use the 13-item modified FT to evaluate PT EBP curricula and physical therapists' EBP knowledge and skills.