Physiotherapists’ perceptions of patient adherence to home exercises in chronic musculoskeletal rehabilitation.

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Background – Rehabilitation of chronic musculoskeletal conditions usually involves long-term home-based exercise programmes. Exercises have been shown to alleviate pain, improve joint mobility and stability, allow faster return to work and prevent progression of chronic conditions. Non-adherence of patients to unsupervised long-term exercise is a major problem that affects treatment outcome. This study explores UK physiotherapists’ perceptions of exercise adherence and their interventions to tackle it in clinical practice.

Method – A convenience sample of five experienced physiotherapists from Sheffield Hallam University were interviewed. Interviews were transcribed and analysed. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used to analyse data transcriptions.

Results – The identified themes revolved around issues of patient-therapist collaboration in chronic rehabilitation. The subordinate themes were: negotiating ownership and self management, education and pain, professional power and patient attitudes and communication.

Conclusion – Experienced physiotherapists recognised barriers and often critically viewed their practice. They undertook necessary interventions in their practice but persisting non-adherence made them question the patient’s role in the partnership.

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