An exploration of physiotherapists' perceived benefits and barriers towards using psychosocial strategies in their practice

Christina Driver, Florin Oprescu, Geoff P. Lovell

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Background: This study aimed to determine what physiotherapists perceive are the benefits of using psychosocial strategies in their own practice, and whether perceived barriers extend beyond practitioner and contextual barriers. Methods: Content analysis of two open-ended questions was conducted. Australian physiotherapists (n = 206) provided written comments. Results: Three key categories of benefits emerged: patient benefits, shared patient and physiotherapist benefits, and physiotherapist benefits. Patient benefits included improved rehabilitation experience, improved patient wellbeing and improvement of psychosocial responses. Specifically, increased patient enjoyment, improved self-management and improved understanding of the links between their physical and psychological health. Therapeutic alliance appeared as a shared patient and physiotherapist benefit, with specific reference to enhanced partnerships and improved patient-centred practice. Physiotherapist benefits comprised of improved needs assessment and occupational benefits such as reduced load. Three key categories of physiotherapist barriers, contextual barriers, and patient barriers emerged. Time, knowledge, confidence, lack of expertise, and limited formal training, were the main barriers, specifically a lack of practical training, and for more complex strategies. Physiotherapists acknowledged patient barriers such as patient resistance, lack of understanding, and complex mental health needs. Conclusions: These findings contribute novel information with regard to the benefits and barriers of psychosocial approaches from a physiotherapist perspective. Physiotherapists may benefit from further support in their use of psychosocial approaches, to emphasize the benefits for their own practice. Furthermore, to potentially reduce patient barriers and improve outcomes, patient education concerning a biopsychosocial model of care could be valuable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-121
Number of pages11
JournalMusculoskeletal Care
Issue number2
Early online date13 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • barriers
  • benefits
  • biopsychosocial
  • physiotherapy
  • psychosocial strategies
  • qualitative research
  • training


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