'We got the whole story all at once': physiotherapists' use of key questions when meeting patients with long-standing pain.

Research paper by Maria M Afrell, Carl Edvard CE Rudebeck

Indexed on: 25 Dec '09Published on: 25 Dec '09Published in: Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences


Long-standing musculoskeletal pain has many dimensions. Physiotherapy lacks a tested method of dialogue with which physiotherapists and patients can together explore pain in all its complexity. The present aim was to find out how physiotherapists experienced the influence of systematically prepared key questioning on their relation to, and understanding of, patients with long-standing pain. A group of six physiotherapists with long experience of pain rehabilitation used such questions in their encounters with their patients. Two periods of work with the questions were followed by discussions in which the physiotherapists shared their experience in a joint focus group. Verbatim transcripts of the discussions constitute the data of the study. A phenomenographic method was used for the analysis. The responses to the key questions gave the physiotherapists an insight into the patient as a person. The questions started a process of change in the patient, and changed the physiotherapist's relation to her or him. The patient expressed feelings and experience, and this also seemed to encourage a change in chosen coping strategies. This new content of the interaction challenged the physiotherapist's role, thus raising questions about her professional mandate.