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Physical Therapist-Delivered Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

The importance of the bio-psychosocial model in assessment and management of chronic musculoskeletal conditions is recognized. Physical therapists have been encouraged to develop psychologically informed practice. Little is known about the process of physical therapists’ learning and delivering of psychological interventions within the practice context. The aim of this study was to investigate physical therapists’ experiences and perspectives of a cognitive-behavioral-informed training and intervention process as part of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) involving adults with painful knee osteoarthritis. A qualitative design was used. Participants were physical therapists trained to deliver pain coping skills training (PCST). Eight physical therapists trained to deliver PCST were interviewed by telephone at 4 time points during the 12-month RCT period. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim into computer-readable files, and analyzed using Framework Analysis. Thematic categories identified were: training, experience delivering PCST, impact on general clinical practice, and perspectives on PCST and physical therapist practice. Physical therapists reported positive experiences with PCST and program delivery. They thought that their participation in the RCT had enhanced their general practice. Although some components of the PCST program were familiar, the therapists found delivering the program was quite different from regular practice. Physical therapists believed the PCST program, a 3- to 4-day workshop followed by formal mentoring and performance feedback from a psychologist for 3 to 6 months and during the RCT, was critical to their ability to effectively deliver the PCST intervention. They identified a number of challenges in delivering PCST in their normal practice. Physical therapists can be trained to confidently deliver a PCST program. The physical therapists in this study believed that training enhanced their clinical practice. Comprehensive training and mentoring by psychologists was crucial to ensure treatment fidelity.

Nielsen, M., Keefe, F. J., Bennell, K., & Jull, G. A. (January 01, 2014). Physical Therapist-Delivered Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: A Qualitative Study of Physical Therapists’ Perceptions and Experiences. Physical Therapy, 94, 2, 197-209.