Evolving trends in physiotherapy research publications between 1995 and 2015

Tiago S. Jesus, Silvia Gianola, Greta Castellini, Heather Colquhoun, Dina Brooks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The aim of this study was to comparatively analyze evolving trends in physiotherapy (PT) research publications (excluding case reports and epi-demiological and qualitative studies) between 1995 and 2015, inclusively in terms of research design, funding support, age groups, and health conditions. Method: This was an observational study using PubMed-indexed data. Combinations of medical subject headings identified yearly research publications for PT and comparator fields: human-based health and physical rehabilitation. Yearly publications data were extracted, relative percentages were computed, and linear or exponential regressions examined the yearly growth in the proportion of research publications over these 2 decades. Results: As a percentage of human-based health research publications, PT research publications grew exponentially: from 0.54% in 1995 to 2.37% in 2015 (r² = 0.97; p < 0.01). As a percentage of physical rehabilitation research publications, PT research grew from 38.2% in 1995 to 58.7% in 2015 (r² = 0.89; p < 0.01). Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) resulted in the majority of PT research publications (from 45.1% in 1995 to 59.4% in 2015; r² = 0.79; p < 0.01). Rates of declared funding increased (from 29.7% in 1995 to 57% in 2015; r² = 0.83; p < 0.01), but the comparator fields had similar growth. The percentage of PT research publications remained stable for most health conditions and age groups, decreased for those aged 0–18 years (p = 0.012) and for cardiovascular and pulmonary conditions (both p < 0.01), and increased for neoplasms (p < 0.01). Conclusions: PT research publications have become more prevalent among health and physical rehabilitation research publications; the majority of publications report on RCTs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-131
Number of pages10
JournalPhysiotherapy Canada
Issue number2
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Mar 2020


  • Medical subject headings
  • Publications
  • PubMed
  • Randomized controlled trials as topic


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