Physiotherapists’ attitudes and beliefs about low back pain influence their clinical decisions and advice

Review written by Dr Sandy Hilton info

Key Points

  1. Physiotherapists often demonstrate unhelpful beliefs about the need for back protection and limited movement.
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BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE

A recognizable statement in papers on low back pain (LBP) is that LBP is “the leading cause of disability worldwide”. There is a large body of evidence promoting a biopsychosocial approach to treating pain. Clinical courses and papers promote education of helpful beliefs for patients about their backs as a priority of treatment. There is less discussion about the beliefs of the clinician about their back and LBP.

The authors hypothesized that if clinicians have unhelpful personal beliefs about LBP it would correlate to clinical decisions of protection, passive treatment, and avoidance of movement. To test this hypothesis, they had three objectives:

  1. Assess beliefs about LBP among French-speaking Swiss physiotherapists
  2. Analyze if individual characteristics can predict unhelpful beliefs
  3. Analyze the association between clinical recommendations and their own beliefs about LBP.

There is a large body of evidence promoting a biopsychosocial approach to treating pain.
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If we get our own beliefs in order, we will make better clinical decisions.

METHODS

This study was conducted in the French-speaking part of Switzerland and participants were recruited through the national association. The study was a prospective observational cross-section survey. Power was calculated for 123 participants, and 288 completed the questionnaire.

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