Scientific/Clinical Article| Volume 30, ISSUE 3, P314-319, July 2017

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Hand therapists report perceived differences in patient referrals from hand surgeons vs other referral sources: A survey study

Published:March 09, 2017DOI:


      Study Design

      Descriptive research.


      Survey research was performed to determine if there is a perceived difference in outcomes of patients referred to hand therapy from specialized hand surgeons vs nonspecialized physicians.


      The survey was administered to members of the American Society of Hand Therapists through an electronic mailing.


      A total of 744 American Society of Hand Therapists members responded to the survey. Therapists reported a difference in recovery time between patients referred by a hand surgeon vs a nonspecialized physician. Sixty-seven percent (n = 490) of the respondents answered yes and 12% (n = 84) answered no.


      It is important to consider that not all hand patients receive treatment from a specialized hand surgeon and that a specialized hand therapist may be an integral team member for patients who have not received specialized care from their referral source.


      Most hand therapists who responded to this survey believe that there is a difference in outcomes of patients referred to hand therapy from specialized hand surgeons vs nonspecialized physicians.

      Level of Evidence

      Level 3.


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      JHT Read for Credit

      Quiz: #492

      Record your answers on the Return Answer Form found on the tear-out coupon at the back of this issue or to complete online and use a credit card, go to There is only one best answer for each question.
      • #1.
        The purpose of the study was to determine if therapists felt
        • a.
          outcomes were not influenced by the referral source
        • b.
          they should limit their practice to patients referred by hand surgeons
        • c.
          outcomes were different in patients referred by hand surgeons than those referred by non hand surgeons
        • d.
          their services were more valued by hand surgeons than by general orthopedic surgeons
      • #2.
        The survey was responded to by approximately
        • a.
          775 ASHT members
        • b.
          500 CHTs
        • c.
          1000 OTRs and PTs in the US and UK
        • d.
          450 OTRs in California
      • #3.
        The external validity of many research studies may be artificially limited because
        • a.
          most of the articles are not co-authored by hand therapists collaborating with hand surgeons
        • b.
          most surgical journals are not peer reviewed
        • c.
          only a small % of the data is generated by fellowship trained hand surgeons
        • d.
          so much of the data is generated by large centers where the surgeons are fellowship trained hand surgeons
      • # 4.
        What % of therapists reported they do not perform interventions with which they disagree
        • a.
        • b.
        • c.
        • d.
      • #5.
        The data showed that the use of contemporary methods of communication (e.g. texting and smart phones) will improve the clarity of referrals and hence outcomes
        • a.
        • b.
      When submitting to the HTCC for re-certification, please batch your JHT RFC certificates in groups of 3 or more to get full credit.