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Guideline adherent screening and referral: do third year Doctor of Physical Therapy students identify red and yellow flags within descriptive patient cases? a United States based survey study.

INTRODUCTION: The need for early detection and appropriate management of flags in physical therapy has been established. The lack of early detection has been shown to lead to poor outcomes such as serious pathology, increased disability, prolonged symptoms, and increased healthcare utilization.

OBJECTIVE: The main purpose of this survey study was to assess third-year Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students' adherence to clinical practice guidelines specifically in the identification and management of red and yellow flags through a case-based approach.

METHODS: A survey including three different flag case scenarios was sent to DPT students in 15 geographically diverse physical therapy programs. Previously published case scenarios measuring adherence to practice guidelines were used. Correlational analyses were performed to link student demographic details and guideline adherent management.

RESULTS: The survey was completed by 64 students. Guideline adherent management was greater for red flags (85%) than yellow flag cases (25% and 42%). No significant relationship was noted between the student details and guideline adherent management.

CONCLUSION: DPT students may need additional educational content related to yellow flag screening. Educators may consider utilizing published red and yellow flag cases to guide decision-making and highlight best screening practices.

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