Patient-Therapist Interaction

O’Keefe M et al. What Influences Patient-Therapist Interactions in Musculoskeletal Physical Therapy? Qualitative Systematic Review and Meta-Synthesis. Physical Therapy. May: 2016
  • A positive pt-therapist interaction is linked with reduced pain and disability and higher treatment satisfaction
  • A total of 13 journal articles selected with a total of 253 pts and 78 physical therapists interviewed. 4 themes emerged: PT interpersonal and communication skills, PT practical skills, individualized pt-centered care, organization and environmental factors
  • Both PTs and pts felt it was important for PTs to listen to allow pts to tell their story
  • Patients felt it was important for PTs to realize how much of an impact pain could have on their lives and for therapists to empathize with them on this issue
  • Patients believed that being able to chat with their PT in a friendly manner was important for a positive interaction. Both PTs and pts mentioned that having a sense of humor was another way to develop a positive relationship
  • Patients felt that motivation and encouragement helped pts feel that the therapist cared about them
  • Patients valued a clear explanation of what their problem was, how the PT could help, and why certain exercises were prescribed
  • Patients reported a stronger bond with their PT when their treatment was individualized. Those that reported that they felt like “just another patient” did not have a positive interaction.
  • Patients found it annoying when PTs ignored their preferences and abilities when prescribing exercises, which had a negative impact on the relationship.
  • Patients appreciated having the time to sit down and interact with their therapist without feeling rushed during appointments.
  • Research is increasingly encouraging clinicians to harness both specific and nonspecific aspects of treatment to improve clinical outcomes. HIgh-quality quantitative data reveal that a positive pt-therapist interaction can positively influence treatment outcomes.