Exploring the use of Outcome Measures by Physiotherapists within Orthopaedic Practice: A Qualitative Study using Semi- Structured Interviews
(2016) Exploring the use of Outcome Measures by Physiotherapists within Orthopaedic Practice: A Qualitative Study using Semi- Structured Interviews, no. 28.
Purpose: Use of outcome measures in physiotherapy is central to evaluating treatment effectiveness. Orthopaedic physiotherapy services place huge pressure on the NHS so their value must be justified. There is limited research into physiotherapist's perspectives of use of outcome measures in orthopaedics. This study aimed to explore why orthopaedic physiotherapists in Scotland do or do not use outcome measures, how they select them, what they use them for and perceived barriers to uptake. Design/Method: A phenomenological approach adopting semi-structured telephone interviews was used. Interviews of 6 participants were audio-recorded, transcribed and analysed thematically. Approaches to enhance rigour included completion of audit trail, reflexive diary and peer checking to decrease researcher bias. Findings: All participants agreed an outcome measure was a 'standardised tool designed to measure baseline performance, a change in patient condition/function or treatment effect.' All participants used outcome measures but not routinely. Four themes emerged surrounding selection, benefits, barriers and making better use of outcome measures. The desired selection criterion was good feasibility and psychometric properties. Monitoring patient progress; improving patient compliance; enhancing provision of care and justifying service value were reported benefits to use. Barriers to uptake included time constraints, environment/setting, lack of knowledge and skills and conforming to routine. Suggestions for overcoming barriers were given. Conclusion: Better use of outcome measures could be made in orthopaedics. Based on perceived barriers, alterations in therapists' behaviour, routine assessment styles, managerial/administrative support and educational in-services may help better facilitate use of outcome measures in this area.