BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE
Therapeutic alliance (TA) has been the subject of research in the field of psychology for some time. Now that psychosocial issues have been shown to be important in musculoskeletal pain, there is growing interest in the effect of TA in physical therapy.
Other reviews have found that TA positively affects outcomes in physical rehabilitation for a wide variety of diagnoses including brain injury, musculoskeletal conditions, and multiple other pathologies. This systematic review offered a more focused study on TA and pain in the context of physical therapy. It also sought to define TA and identify the factors that contribute to its development.
The authors identified seven studies that met the inclusion criteria. Three investigated the effect of TA on chronic musculoskeletal pain and four examined the factors that influence the strength of TA.
The three studies on the relationship between TA and pain found that a stronger TA was associated with better outcomes. One found that a strong TA even in the absence of any intervention could reduce pain.