'I can feel myself coming out of the rut': a brief intervention for supporting behaviour change is acceptable to patients with chronic musculoskeletal conditions

Amelia Parchment, Wendy Lawrence, Em Rahman, Nick Townsend, Elaine Wainwright, David Wainwright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


AIM: To a) understand the perceptions and experiences of patients with musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions in relation to their physiotherapy care and their acceptability of 'Making Every Contact Count Healthy Conversation Skills' (MECC HCS) as a brief intervention within this care and, b) explore the mechanisms through which MECC HCS might facilitate behaviour change and enhance self-management in patients with MSK conditions. METHODS: This study adopted an exploratory qualitative design, in which individual, semi-structured interviews with participants were conducted. Eight participants were interviewed. Five had been engaging with physiotherapists trained in and delivering MECC HCS within their routine physiotherapy appointments and three had been engaging with physiotherapists who had not received this training and were instead delivering usual care. MECC HCS is a person-centred approach to behaviour change that aims to empower individuals to take control of their health behaviours by building self-efficacy. The MECC HCS training programme helps healthcare professionals to develop skills in i) using 'open discovery' questions to explore context and allow patients to identify barriers and generate solutions; ii) listening more than giving information/ making suggestions; iii) reflecting on practice and iv) supporting Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, Timed, Evaluated, Reviewed (SMARTER) goal setting. RESULTS: Those who had engaged with MECC HCS trained physiotherapists found their physiotherapy care highly acceptable and felt that their physiotherapist listened to them, tried to understand their context and world, and helped them plan for change. These individuals experienced increases in self-efficacy and motivation for self-managing their MSK conditions. A need for continued support following physiotherapy treatment was, however, emphasised for long-term self-management. CONCLUSIONS: MECC HCS is highly acceptable to patients with MSK conditions and pain and may successfully facilitate health-promoting behaviour change and enhance self-management. Providing opportunities to join support groups following physiotherapy treatment may promote long-term self-management and provide social and emotional benefits for individuals. The positive findings of this small qualitative study warrant further investigation on the differences in experiences and outcomes between patients engaging with MECC HCS physiotherapists and those receiving treatment as usual during routine physiotherapy care.

Original languageEnglish
Article number241
Number of pages1
JournalBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the participants for their contribution to this research. The lead researcher, Amelia Parchment, would also like to thank Funds for Women Graduates for awarding her with a grant which enabled her to complete this study, within a programme of research, following severe disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Availability of data and materials
Materials (i.e., interview guide) are available from the corresponding author upon request.


  • Behaviour change
  • Brief intervention
  • Chronic pain
  • Musculoskeletal conditions
  • Physiotherapy
  • Self-management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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