Facilitators and barriers to implementation of the ankle brachial index in outpatient physical therapy practice: a qualitative study

Kristin M Lefebvre, Crystal Cody, Erika Jayne, Jennifer Mason, Rebecca Monaghan, Kerstin Palombaro
Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy Journal 2013, 24 (1): 7-13

INTRODUCTION: The ankle brachial index (ABI) is a valid and reliable measurement of lower extremity circulation and can be used as a screening tool for peripheral arterial disease (PAD), but the usage pattern in physical therapy practice is virtually unknown.

PURPOSE: This study was performed to describe the phenomenon of using the ABI in outpatient physical therapy practice.

METHODS: Nine participants from 3 different outpatient physical therapy clinics were provided with a hand held Doppler and education on how to accurately perform an ABI. Over a 3-month period, participants performed the ABI on any patient presenting with age > 50 with at least two risk factors for PAD. Immediately following the 3-month data collection period, two focus group interviews were performed to examine the therapist's experience using the ABI. Transcripts were analyzed to identify facilitators and barriers to implementation.

RESULTS: Facilitators identified include familiarity, ease of use, accuracy, and confidence with results. Barriers included flow and routine disruption, patient did not want/refused, and issues related to direct access.

CONCLUSION: Although some barriers to use of the ABI in an outpatient clinical setting need to be considered, most participants found the experience of using the ABI positive and feasible.

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