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FOTO Rehab Outcomes Blog

Person-centered Approaches: What Matters to Patients

Qualitative studies are often times my most favorite. I truly appreciate qualitative studies because it is through them that we learn because of the reflective thoughts that come out of the study.


I know from the upcoming report, Data Trends in U.S. Healthcare and Patient Rehabilitation - Focus Patient Characteristics, Patient Outcomes and Clinical Performance, there are times that patients only attend for a consultation visit.

So, when we are working with patients - a consultation or even for treatment sessions - what are patients needing from us? How often do we impose our own agendas on patients versus really thinking about their perspective?

"Achieving desirable health outcomes is more likely when people are supported to think about their priorities and 'what matters to them'."

I know from my experience, it isn't easy to figure out what is is a patient needs the most. Every evaluation, every treatment session I feel as though I need to not only listen, but also watch non-verbal language to stay on my toes and try to provide that moment's need.

You'll find the abstract below.

What matters most to people in musculoskeletal physiotherapy consultations? A qualitative study.




Person-centred approaches to care require clinicians to engage in trying to understand the full range of problems and concerns, treatment and investigation requests, and emotional and social issues that people bring to the consultation. If, however, the main issues of importance are not openly declared and discussed they cannot be addressed. This is likely to result in people receiving the carethat clinicians think they need, rather than care based on individual needs and preferences.


To understand people's abilities to express the issues of importance to them within a consultation and clinicians' abilities to acknowledge and address those issues.


A qualitative study using an interpretive phenomenological approach.


Fifteen people and their physiotherapists were interviewed and their consultations recorded. The resulting data sets were analysed to identify and report themes within the data.


The findings revealed that people present with what are often simple issues, but which are sometimes expressed in an unstructured way in clinical encounters and are often difficult for clinicians to establish. Three linked themes emerged: (1) clear versus unstructured agendas; (2) people need information and understanding; and (3) developing a sense of collaboration.


The issues of importance that people bring to a consultation are varied and often vague. This research highlights the importance of communication to elicit, identify and address the issues of importance to people in clinical encounters to ensure a positive experience and outcome for both the individual person and clinician.

 2018 Mar 10;35:84-89. doi: 10.1016/j.msksp.2018.03.005. [Epub ahead of print]

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