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Physical therapists & workparticipation

wo 2 augustus 2017, 15:00

Physical therapists and importance of work participation in patients with musculoskeletal disorders: a focus group study. Hutting et al, 2017


Musculoskeletal disorders are a major health problem resulting in negative effects on wellbeing and substantial costs to society. Work participation is associated with positive benefits for both mental and physical health. Potentially, generalist physical therapists (GPTs) can play an important role in reducing absenteeism and presenteeism. And associated costs in patients with musculoskeletal disorders. However, work participation is often insufficiently addressed within generalist physical therapy practice (GPTP). Therefore, this study evaluates whether GPTs take work participation into account as a determining factor in patients with musculoskeletal disorders. And and how this might be improved.


This qualitative study consisted of seven focus groups involving 30 participants: 21 general physical therapists (GPTs)  and 9 occupational physical therapists (OPTs). Based on an interview guide, participants were asked how they integrate work participation. Within their practice, How they collaborate with other professionals. And how GPTs can improve integration of the patient’s work within their practice.


Participants recognized the importance of work participation. They mentioned that the integration of this item in their general physical therapist practice (GPT) could be improved. Generally GPT place insufficient priority on work participation. Moreover, there is a lack of cooperation between the generalist physical therapist and (other) occupational healthcare providers (including OPTs). And the borderlines/differences between generalist physcial therapy and occupational health physcial therapy were sometimes unclear. GPTs showed a lack of knowledge and a need for additional information about several important work-related factors (e.g. work content, physical and psychosocial working conditions, terms of employment).


Although a patient’s work is important, GPTs take insufficient account of work participation as a determining factor in the treatment of patients with musculoskeletal disorders. GPTs often lack specific knowledge about work-related factors, and there is insufficient cooperation between OPTs and other occupational Healthcare providers. The integration of work participation within GPTP, and the cooperation between GPTs and other occupational healthcare providers, show room for improvement.

Lees het hele artikel

'Effectiveness of a self-management program for employees with complaints of the arm, neck and/or shoulder'

Nathan Hutting, HAN onderzoeker, Proefschrift ‘Effectiveness of a self-management program for employees with complaints of the arm, neck and/or shoulder’