Primary Care Physical Therapists' Experiences when Screening for Serious Pathologies among their Patients: a Qualitative Study

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OBJECTIVE: A vital part of the initial examination performed by a physical therapist is to establish whether the patient would benefit from physical therapist intervention. This process includes knowledge about contraindications for treatment and screening for serious pathologies. However, little is known about the physical therapists' views and thoughts about their own practice when screening for serious pathologies. The purposed of this study was to explore the experience gained by physical therapists when screening for serious pathologies among their patients.

METHODS: This study was a qualitative study based on individual semi structured interviews with 9 primary care physical therapists. The interviews were analyzed using reflexive thematic analysis and generated themes were explained and reported with relevant quotes.

RESULTS: Three overall themes were generated: (1) the role of physical therapists in the diagnostic process; (2) responsibility from the individual to the group; and (3) the difficult task of cooperation. The physical therapists described how they relied more on their clinical suspicion than on asking red-flag questions when screening for serious pathologies. They also questioned their differential diagnostic abilities. Finally, they saw a potential to further enhance their confidence in the area by reflecting on the matter with colleagues and by receiving more feedback about their clinical reasoning regarding serious pathologies from general practitioners.

CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that physical therapists primarily rely on their clinical suspicion when screening for serious pathologies but at the same time are uncertain about their differential diagnostic abilities.

TidsskriftPhysical Therapy
Antal sider8
StatusUdgivet - maj 2022

Bibliografisk note

The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Physical Therapy Association.

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