Prioritising Patient Access in Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy: A Discussion Group

On 19th July 2023, I ran a discussion group aimed at understanding more about the patient experience of Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy. Together with the participants, we explored the experience and results for ethnic minority groups attending physiotherapy sessions. The discussion topic will hopefully inform a wider research project in East London. The group had 11 attendees of different genders, ages, ethnicities and backgrounds.

Everyone who attended the discussion group said they felt that improving experience and results in physiotherapy for underserved groups was an important research topic.

I really enjoyed running this group. All of the participants were so friendly and interested in the topic, which made the experience especially rewarding. In fact, everyone wanted to keep talking at the end of the session! The participants expressed that they felt as passionately as I do about improving physiotherapy care, which was very exciting to hear. 

All the above play a big part in constructive engagement with the public. Building trust is key. Creating relationships is powerful and beneficial on a mutual scale. Making it engageable is very important, rather than just handing out leaflets which people tend to throw away. 


Some of the key findings from the discussions were: 

  • Patient Empowerment: Patients want to be involved in the decision-making process and use their experiences as advocates to improve the service.
  • Access and Communication: Concerns about access to physiotherapy services, including travel and location issues, language barriers, and the need for interpreters or translated materials. 
  • Knowledge is power: Lack of knowledge and understanding about what physiotherapy is and what is involved in the process and desire for better communication and understanding of this.
  • Time Constraints: Desire for longer appointments and more time to address multiple issues during sessions.
  • Cultural Perceptions: Cultural views and beliefs influence attitudes towards physiotherapy, particularly in the context of South Asian culture due to limited knowledge that affect patient trust and expectations.
  • Holistic approach: The need for longer term support after discharge and consideration of integration of services such as mental health.

    These findings will be taken on board for a future research project that I am planning, and I hope will feed into wider evaluations of physiotherapy services in the area.

    Queen Mary University of London’s Centre for Public Engagement very generously provided financial support through their small grants scheme allowing us to reimburse the participants of the group and to book a room at the New Road Hotel. 

    Thank you so much to everyone that contributed to the discussion group in July 2023 and made it such a huge success. 

    By Jessica Pawson 

    Musculoskeletal Research Physiotherapist and Pre-Doctoral Clinical Academic Fellow


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