Survey of methods used to determine if a patient has a deep vein thrombosis: An exploratory research report

John D. Heick, James W. Farris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: The use of evidence-based practice (EBP) is encouraged in the physical therapy profession, but integrating evidence into practice can be difficult for clinicians because of lack of time and other constraints. Objective: To survey physical therapy clinical instructors and determine the methods they use for screening for deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a type of venous thromboembolism (VTE) in the lower extremities. Design: Exploratory survey. Methods: Twelve survey questions written specifically for this study were sent to a convenience sample of clinical instructors associated with seven universities across 43 states. Results: Eight hundred fifty clinical instructors (22.4% response rate) completed the survey. Of those who responded, 80.5% were taught to use Homans sign to screen for a possible DVT in their entry-level education and 67.9% continued to use Homans sign in clinical practice. Regardless of post-graduate education, respondents were more likely to choose Homans sign than a clinical decision rule (CDR) to screen for a suspected DVT. Additionally, nearly two-thirds of respondents failed to correctly identify one or more of the major risk factors for developing a DVT/VTE. Limitations: The response rate was 22.4% and therefore may not fully represent the population of physical therapy clinical instructors in the United States. Conclusions: Results from this exploratory survey indicated that approximately two-thirds of physical therapy clinical instructors used outdated DVT/VTE screening methods that they were taught in their entry-level education and nearly two-thirds did not identify the major risk factors associated with DVT/VTE. These results suggest that change is necessary in physical therapy education, clinical practice, and continuing professional development to ensure a more evidenced-based identification of DVT and VTE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)733-742
Number of pages10
JournalPhysiotherapy Theory and Practice
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2 2017


  • Clinical decision rule
  • deep vein thrombosis
  • evidence based practice
  • homans sign
  • venous thromboembolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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