Guideline adherence of physiotherapists in the treatment of patients with low back pain: A qualitative study

Gijs Petrus Gerardus Lemmers*, Jasper Daniël Bier, Wim van Lankveld, Gerard Pieter Westert, Jacobus Bart Staal, Philip Jan van der Wees

*Corresponding author for this work

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Rationale: Adherence rates to guidelines show room for improvement, and increase in adherence to guidelines may potentially lead to better outcomes and reduced costs of treatment. To improve adherence, it is essential to understand the considerations of physiotherapists regarding the assessment and management of low back pain (LBP). The purpose of this study is to gain insight in the considerations of Dutch physiotherapists on adherence to the national physiotherapy guideline in the treatment of patients with LBP. Methods: This is a qualitative study, using an interpretive approach of semi-structured interviews with 14 physiotherapists who regularly treat patients with LBP. Thematic analysis was conducted with open coding using an existing framework. This framework distinguishes five components to adherence based on patient factors, provider factors, guideline characteristics, institutional factors and the implementation process. Results: Participating physiotherapists mentioned that the guideline should provide more information about psychosocial prognostic factors and psychosocial treatment options. The participants experienced difficulties in addressing patient expectations that conflict with guideline recommendations. The implementation process of the guideline was considered insufficient. Physiotherapists might rely too much on their experience, and knowledge of evidence-based treatment might be improved. In general, the interviewed physiotherapists thought they were mainly non-adherent to the guidelines. However, when comparing their considerations with the actual guideline recommendations they were mainly adherent. Conclusion: To improve adherence, the guideline should provide more information about addressing psychosocial prognostic factors, and Dutch physiotherapists might be trained in communication skills to better address patient expectations. A more extensive implementation process is warranted for the next guideline to increase the physiotherapists' knowledge of evidence-based treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1147-1156
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice
Issue number6
Early online date26 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

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© 2022 The Authors. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


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