Attitudes and Perceptions of Family Physicians 18-2


 Attitudes and Perceptions of Family Physicians Regarding Physical Therapy Treatment for Musculoskeletal Disorders

Ori Etrog, Yocheved Laufer


Background: Pain related to musculoskeletal disorders leads a significant proportion of patients to consult  their general practitioners (GPs),

who, in turn, are responsible for roughly one-third of all physical therapy (PT) referrals.


Study aim: To examine the perceptions of GPs regarding the contribution of PT to the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders and the manner in which these perceptions affect PT referrals.


Methods: In this cross sectional study, 122 GPs anonymously completed a battery of  questionnaires, distributed during two conferences held by the National Association of Family Medicine.


Results: The main findings are: (1) Physicians' expected PT  to be most  effective in increasing patients' range of motion and in teaching patients to use assistive devices. However, they anticipated PT efficacy to be relatively low for acute pain prevention and improvement of  patients' occupational capacity. (2) Physicians estimated that 26% of patients would improvement resulting from PT would be no better or quicker than that attained through natural recovery. (3) There was a 60% agreement among GPs that physical therapists are qualified to perform patient evaluation and treatment without a physician's referral. (4) Only in 56% of referrals was PT treatment actually necessary. (5) Findings indicate that 56.6% of the GPs were uninformed regarding the scope of PT training. (6) Physicians’ education regarding PT was the most influential factor affecting their expectations for treatment success.


Conclusion: It is necessary to consider appropriate programs for increasing GPs' knowledge about PT, which may lead to more optimal use of PT as a therapeutic option contributing to patient care.


 Keywords: physical therapy, general practitioners, attitudes, perceptions, orthopedics

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