Publication Date

2017

Abstract

Objective

To assess the effect of an intervention designed to enhance physiotherapists' communication skills on patients' adherence to recommendations regarding home-based rehabilitation for chronic low back pain.

Design

Cluster randomized controlled trial.

Setting

Publicly funded physiotherapy clinics.

Participants

A sample (N=308) of physiotherapists (n=53) and patients with chronic low back pain (n=255; 54% female patients; mean age, 45.3y).

Interventions

Patients received publicly funded individual physiotherapy care. In the control arm, care was delivered by a physiotherapist who had completed a 1-hour workshop on evidence-based chronic low back pain management. Patients in the experimental arm received care from physiotherapists who had also completed 8 hours of communication skills training.

Main Outcome Measures

(1) Patient-reported adherence to their physiotherapists' recommendations regarding home-based rehabilitation measured at 1, 4, 12, and 24 weeks after the initial treatment session. (2) Pain and pain-related function measured at baseline and at 4, 12, and 24 weeks.

Results

A linear mixed model analysis revealed that the experimental arm patients' ratings of adherence were higher than those of controls (overall mean difference, .41; 95% confidence interval, .10–.72; d=.28; P=.01). Moderation analyses revealed that men, regardless of the intervention, showed improvements in pain-related function over time. Only women in the experimental arm showed functional improvements; female controls showed little change in function over time. The Communication Style and Exercise Compliance in Physiotherapy intervention did not influence patients' pain, regardless of their sex.

Conclusions

Communication skills training for physiotherapists had short-term positive effects on patient adherence. This training may provide a motivational basis for behavior change and could be a useful component in complex interventions to promote adherence. Communication skills training may also improve some clinical outcomes for women, but not for men.

School/Institute

Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

Document Type

Open Access Journal Article

Access Rights

Open Access

Included in

Therapeutics Commons

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