Affiliations: [a] Doctoral Programs in Physical Therapy, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ, USA | [b] PHENIX Physical Therapy and Personal Wellness, Issaquah, WA, USA | [c] Hackensack Meridian Rehabilitation, Point Pleasant, NJ, USA
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Depression, a common comorbidity encountered in physical therapy (PT) practice, negatively impacts outcomes. There is limited knowledge of PT practice patterns relative to screening for depression. OBJECTIVE: Objectives were to describe beliefs regarding depression, and identify practice patterns and perceived barriers regarding screening for depression among APTA Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist (OCS) PTs. METHODS: Surveys were distributed to all PT OCSs in the US; 416 responses were analyzed. Descriptive, univariate and multiple regression analyses were performed. RESULTS: Ninety-five percent of respondents believed that depression has a moderate to high influence on PT outcomes, whereas 68% believed a pre-existing diagnosis of depression influences the plan of care. Most believed that 20% or more of their current patients presented with symptoms of depression. Nevertheless, only 18% formally screen for depression during the initial evaluation. Those with formal depression screening education were 2.3 times more likely to screen at initial examination. Common barriers to screening included lack of department policy, limited knowledge and lack of follow-up resources. CONCLUSIONS: Formal screening did not occur as frequently as expected, given the belief regarding depression’s impact on plan of care and outcomes. Addressing barriers may assist in greater compliance with recommended screening guidelines.