Physical therapists should integrate illness perceptions in their assessment in patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain

Over the last ten years, scientific evidence has shown that the biomedical model falls short in the treatment of patients with musculoskeletal pain. To understand musculoskeletal pain and a patient’s health behavior and beliefs, physical therapists should assess the illness perceptions of their patients. This quantitative study audiotaped the assessments of 19 primary care physical therapists on 27 patients and analyzed if and how illness perceptions were assessed. The Common Sense Model was used as the theoretical framework. The authors concluded that some of the domains of the Common Sense Model were often asked for (identity, causes and consequences), while others (timeline, treatment control, coherence, emotional representation) were used less frequently or seldom mentioned. The overall impression was that the assessments of the physical therapists were still bio-medically oriented in these patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain.