The effect of a self-determination theory-based communication skills training program on physiotherapists’ psychological support for their patients with chronic low back pain

This study sought to investigate communication skills training effects on physiotherapists’ supportive behavior during clinical practice. 24 physiotherapists and 24 patients with chronic low back pain participated in the study. 2 hospital clinics were assigned at random random to the intervention arm. Physiotherapists (n = 12) received 8 hours of communication skills training focused on supporting patients’ psychological needs. Physiotherapists (n = 12) from 2 other hospital clinics formed a waitlist control arm. Verbal communication between each physiotherapist and a patient was audio recorded and independent, blinded raters used the the Health Care Climate Questionnaire (HCCQ) to assess physiotherapists’ needs support behavior (primary outcome). Independent raters’ HCCQ scores favored the intervention arm (p < .01, Cohen's d = 2.27).
Compared with controls, independent ratings showed that physiotherapists who completed CONNECT were thought to provide greater support for patients' needs in a single assessed session. Long-term maintenance of this supportive behavior should be investigated.