A qualitative study of NHS physiotherapists' perspectives on patient-centred care

McGivern, R.; Snowdon, N.
August 2015
International Journal of Therapy & Rehabilitation;2015 Supplement, Vol. 22, pS7
Academic Journal
Background/Aims: The Department of Health, NHS and Chartered Society of Physiotherapy have all developed documents stating that care should be 'patient-centred'. No previous research has been conducted on how physiotherapists define patient-centred care or how they practise it. The objective of this study was to explore NHS physiotherapists' understanding of patient-centredness and its implementation in an NHS hospital environment. Methods: This qualitative study used semi-structured interviews to explore physiotherapists' perceptions of patient-centred care. Participants included eight physiotherapists working for the NHS in physiotherapy departments in three different locations. Data was interpreted using thematic analysis. Results: Three key themes emerged: i) the importance of communication in goal setting; ii) the value of understanding patients and managing their expectations; iii) managing patient-centred care within limited resources. Patient-centred care was denned as determining patient demands, outlining choices and setting patient-specific goals. Involving them in decision making empowered patients and helped promote meaningful change. Negotiating treatment options was important, especially when patients' expectations were unrealistic, if time was limited or if the treatment needed to be adapted. High patient expectations presented challenges. However, explanation generally led to acceptance of what could be offered. Time constraints, pressure to get patients discharged and staffing shortages hindered the physiotherapists' ability to provide patient-centred care. Multidisciplinary working was seen as critical to patient-centred care. Conclusions: Although the provision of patient-centred care is challenging, with time limitations and discharge pressures identified as major constraints, the physiotherapists felt they were able to manage patients' increasing expectations.


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