Physical therapists familiarity and beliefs about health services utilization and health seeking behaviour

This is a research article summary in line with physiospot’s new style. Please take the time to read the article in full.

Healthcare costs are increasing in all countries around the world and these rises are linked to a number of complex factors. A term you may be familiar with is medicalization. As this article explains, this is the supposition that human conditions and problems can be defined and treated as a medical condition. This has led to an over use of diagnostic and preventative procedures for a number of biological and behavioral disorders which, can be argued that, are not inherently medical. This is called over-medicalization.

Over medicalization: the process of providing too much medical attention to those who do not need it.

As Clewley et al suggest, physiotherapists commonly care for patients in elective settings who often are living with non-specific conditions who face the risk of becoming over-medicalised. Take chronic low back pain for an example. We all know of a patient who has had ongoing back pain, been through an MRI scanner a few times, is dependent on opioid analgesia and is trying to be listed for surgery. It is a really complex phenomenon and this study investigated physiotherapists’ beliefs about healthcare beliefs and utilization.

This was investigated through survey methodology driven through social media and email which was open to therapists from any country. The survey was developed and reviewed by a mixture of IT systems, physiotherapists and survey experts. All data was analysed using SPSS with a p-value of 0.05.

In total 694 surveys were completed with the majority being from the United States (95.7%). Almost half of the participants had at most 10 years experience.

Purpose of the Study

  1. to survey physiotherapists familiarity and belifs about health service beliefs and utilisation.
  2. to identify physical therapists’ characteristics that were related to familiarity of HSU and HSB.
  3. to rate the predisposing,enabling, need, and health status factors physical therapists felt were related to HSU.

What were the findings?

Physiospot recommends reading the results of the survey, in full, by following the link below. The results suggest that there is work needed to be done to help therapists understand how healthcare beliefs and utilisation are related, and how this drives outcomes of intervention.

It is important to consider more than just baseline level of exercise and age as potential factors involved in someones health beliefs. Evidence demonstrates how a number of health beliefs influence the success or failure of interventions. What is clear is that the therapists surveyed in this study did not consider this as important as it really is.

What are the Clinical Implications?

Consider the long term impact of your discussions with patients, particularly about non-specific conditions which may have a non-medical aspect to the problems. Try and understand the patients health beliefs and help them gain control of their condition. Try and incorporate the amount of time / volume your patient has spent in healthcare into your subjective assessments. This will potentially help direct your interventions into a more meaningful way for each individual.