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How the attitudes and beliefs of a physical therapist impacts patients with lower back pain

A study conducted by Rufa, A., et al. (2020) looked into how varied approaches to patients with lower back pain impacted their recovery.

2345 patients were examined, and either received care from a physical therapist who employed a biomedical approach, or by a biopsychosocial viewpoint. A biomedical approach would utilise a scientific methodology in explaining the biology of their low back pain. A biopsychosocial outlook draws on not only the biology of the injury, but also the psychology and socio-environmental factors that could be affected. Essentially, a biopsychosocial model will consider the patient sat in front of you, and how their injury is impacting their lives. Patients may say they are feeling low with their pain, trapped and isolated. This may go on to affect their ability to work, and relationships at home and with friends. If these factors can be identified, then they can observe improvements in their daily lives, rather than solely focusing on their levels of pain.

Results showed that physical therapists who believed in a stronger relationship between pain and disability had improved outcomes. This study highlights the importance of getting to know your patient, and not looking at them as a set of signs and symptoms. Understanding their struggles can help put an action plan together, and this may involve utilising other health professionals to help in their journey to improvement.


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