This is a pilot study to develop and test a survey of Physical Therapy Supervisors to determine key operational and organizational characteristics hypothesized to influence outcomes. The concept, similar to that of the annual surveys of the Chiefs of Staff and Directors of Primary Care, is to establish a baseline to inform the development of quality improvement initiatives and the further analysis of specific interventions and organizational models of care within and in collaboration with physical therapy. We will convene a group of experts to develop the survey, including VA Physical Therapy Planning Specialists, VA Physical Therapy researchers and experts in survey design and organizational behavior. We will pilot test the survey with a select number of VAMC Physical Therapy Supervisors. Qualitative feedback will be obtained via a focus group. The instrument will be finalized based on the pilot test and focus group. Once the survey is finalized, we will propose a new Investigator Initiated Research project to survey all VHA Physical Therapy Supervisors. Results from the broad survey will provide the framework to further explore the effectiveness and comparative effectiveness of physical therapist treatment of veterans and a baseline to inform quality improvement initiatives.
More than 1300 FTE Physical Therapists are employed by the VHA, treating veterans with a broad range of diagnoses and disabilities in a wide array of service environments. Preliminary discussion with service line supervisors and consultants indicate that reporting mechanisms and operational structures vary significantly throughout the service. No current initiative in the Office of Patient Care Services or the Office of Quality and Performance addresses the structure or operation of physical therapy services, partially because little is known about how these factors might influence patient outcomes. This pilot project will develop a survey of the factors hypothesized to influence these outcomes. The long term goal is to identify effective organizational models of care for the Physical Therapy Service in VA.