The research question asked was: What are physiotherapists’ perspectives on managing the cognitive, psychological and social dimensions of chronic low back pain after intensive biopsychosocial training? This was a qualitative study design using semi-structured interviews to explore physiotherapists’ perceptions of their identification and treatment of the biopsychosocial dimensions of chronic low back pain after intensive Cognitive Functional Therapy (CFT) training. Thirteen qualified physiotherapists from four countries who had received specific CFT training. The training involved supervised implementation of CFT in clinical practice with patients. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. An interpretive descriptive analysis was performed using a qualitative software package. Four main themes emerged from the data: self-reported changes in understanding and attitudes; self-reported changes in professional practice; altered scope of practice; and increased confidence and satisfaction. Participants described increased understanding of the nature of pain, the role of patient beliefs, and a new appreciation of the therapeutic alliance. Changes in practice included use of new assessments, changes in communication, and adoption of a functional approach. Since undertaking CFT training, participants described a greater awareness of their role and scope of practice as clinicians in identifying and addressing these factors.
Physiotherapists expressed confidence in their capacity and skill set to manage the biopsychosocial dimensions of chronic low back pain after CFT training, and identified a clear role for including these skills within the physiotherapy profession. Despite this, further clinical trials are needed to justify the time and cost of training, so that intensive CFT training may be made more readily accessible to clinicians, which to date has not been the case.