Challenges and Opportunities for Physical Therapist Education Research: Results from an American Council of Academic Physical Therapy Needs Assessment Survey

Tara Dickson, Jody Eckert, Patrick Pabian, Jamie Greco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction.The physical therapy (PT) profession has cited a need for education research, yet the needs of researchers are not fully understood. Furthermore, there continues to be a limited understanding of where resources are most needed to support and advance education research. The purpose of this study was to identify barriers and opportunities for education research to support PT faculty.Review of Literature.Scholarly productivity may be related to the attainment of an academic doctoral degree, research culture within an institution, and faculty time devoted to research. There is a lack of knowledge about what factors relate to the production of education research and the types of support needed for education researchers.Subjects.Two hundred sixteen PT education researchers.Methods.An open survey invitation was sent through email through the American Council of Academic Physical Therapy newsletter. A multiple regression analysis was used to determine factors that were associated with scholarly productivity of education researchers in PT. Open responses to a question regarding needed resources for engagement in education research were qualitatively analyzed.Results.The multiple regression analysis yielded a large effect (R2= 0.31), demonstrating that faculty years of experience, faculty rank, and having an academic doctoral degree were correlated with scholarly productivity. "Faculty time/workload" was considered "very important" or higher to the production of education research by 87% of respondents. This item was rated of highest importance on the survey. Mentorship was considered the most important external resource, with 69% of respondents rating it as "very important" or higher, whereas "other personal commitments (ie, family care, household management, other community-related volunteer commitments)" was the most important personal factor (rated by 70% of the respondents as "very important" or higher). Open-ended responses further suggest that institution logistics, appropriate dissemination venues, and funding are areas of need to foster success in engaging in education research.Discussion and Conclusion.Results highlight challenges and opportunities for resource investment in education research. Among these are time and funding. Existing professional networking and educational opportunities need to be continually evaluated for their effectiveness. Further development should focus on mitigating these barriers while considering the logistics of the researcher's institution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-89
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Physical Therapy Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. All rights reserved.


  • Education research
  • Professional development
  • Scholarly productivity
  • Scholarship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Health Policy


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