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 aimed to examine the effects of communication skills training on physiotherapists’ supportive behavior during clinical practice. Two hospital clinics were randomly assigned to the intervention arm. Physiotherapists (n=12) received 8 hours of communication skills training targeted on supporting the psychological needs of patients. Physiotherapists (n=12) from 2 other hospital clinics formed a waitlist control arm. Verbal communication between each physiotherapist and a patient was recorded on an audiotape, and independent, blinded raters used the Health Care Climate Questionnaire to assess physiotherapists’ needs-supportive behavior (primary outcome). Independent raters’ Health Care Climate Questionnaire scores favored the intervention arm (Cohen’s d=2.27; P<.01).

Compared with controls, independent ratings exhibited that physiotherapists who completed the Communication style and exercise compliance in physiotherapy training were found to provide more support for patients' needs in a single assessed session. Long-term maintenance of this needs-supportive behavior should be examined.