Psychologically informed physiotherapy for chronic pain: Patient experiences of treatment and therapeutic process

S. Wilson, N. Chaloner, M. Osborn, J. Gauntlett-Gilbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (SciVal)


Objectives: Psychologically informed physiotherapy is used widely with patients with chronic pain. This study aimed to investigate patients' beliefs about, and experiences of, this type of treatment, and helpful and unhelpful experiences. Design: A qualitative study using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of semi-structured interviews. Participants: Participants (n = 8) were recruited within a national specialist pain centre following a residential pain management programme including 2.25. hours of physiotherapy each day. Participants were eligible for inclusion if they had achieved clinically reliable improvements in physical functioning during treatment. Interviews were conducted 3 months post-treatment. Results: Participants reported differing experiences of physiotherapy interventions and differences in the therapeutic relationship, valuing a more individualised approach. The themes of 'working with the whole of me', 'more than just a professional', 'awareness' and 'working through challenges in the therapeutic relationship' emerged as central to behavioural change, together with promotion of perceptions of improved capability and physical capacity. Conclusion: Psychologically informed physiotherapy is an effective treatment for some patients with chronic pain. Participants experienced this approach as uniquely different from non-psychologically informed physiotherapy approaches due to its focus on working with the patient's whole experience. Therapeutic alliance and management of relationship ruptures may have more importance than previously appreciated in physiotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-105
Issue number1
Early online date25 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


  • Chronic pain
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Qualitative


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