The ability of physiotherapists to identify psychosocial factors in patients with musculoskeletal pain: a scoping review

Review written by Dr Sandy Hilton info

Key Points

  1. Physiotherapists around the world report not feeling confident in assessing psychosocial factors in musculoskeletal pain.
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BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE

The biopsychosocial model was developed in 1977 by Engel to address the need of progress beyond hyper focus on a single cause of injury/disease/dysfunction (1). Since then, the term has been over complicated, some are reconceptualizing it and some reject the term (2,3). While healthy debate continues about terminology and clinical treatment, the global burden of pain grows larger. Physical Therapists remain at the front of care for those suffering with musculoskeletal (MSK) pain and it is important to see how well the social determinants of health are identified and accounted for in care.

The authors of this paper highlight the benefit of clinician awareness of the social and psychological influences of MSK (4). The goal of the paper was to answer the question of how well physiotherapists detect psychosocial factors in patients with MSK pain.

The biopsychosocial model was developed to address the need of progress beyond hyper focus on a single cause of injury/disease/dysfunction.
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If we can listen to our patients when we ask about their goals and any barriers to achieving those goals, we are including psychosocial factors.

METHODS

  • This is a “scoping review” which is different to a “systematic review” which provides a summary of the best evidence on a subject. A scoping review provides a descriptive review rather than evaluating based on the quality of the evidence
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