The ‘responsive’ practitioner: physiotherapists’ reflections on the ‘good’ in physiotherapy practice

Physiother Theory Pract. 2022 Jul 6:1-14. doi: 10.1080/09593985.2022.2092567. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Being ‘responsive’ is named as an element of ethic of care theories, yet how it is enacted is not clearly described in health professional practice. Being ‘responsive’ is implied within patient-centered approaches and promoted as important to health care practices, including physiotherapy. However, ways of being a responsive practitioner have not been explicitly examined. Practitioners’ perspectives about how a ‘good’ physiotherapist enacts responsiveness have potential implications for the future practice of physiotherapy. Physiotherapists’ perceptions may inform professional priorities including education curricula, professional practices, and patient interactions.

PURPOSE: The purpose of this research was to explore experienced musculoskeletal (MSK) practitioners’ perceptions of ‘responsiveness’ in the practice of a ‘good’ physiotherapist.

METHODS: A secondary analysis of data arising from a hermeneutic phenomenological study into physiotherapists’ perceptions of what constitutes a ‘good’ physiotherapist was undertaken. The secondary analysis focused on ‘responsiveness,’ which emerged as a major theme in the original study.

FINDINGS: Six themes were identified related to ‘Being responsive’ in a ‘good’ physiotherapist: Being person-centered, Being attentive, Being open, Being a listener, Being validating, and Being positive.

CONCLUSIONS: As a relational way of practicing, being responsive may facilitate person-centered approaches including a relational understanding of autonomy, inviting dialogue, and sharing power and decision-making with patients. Pivotal to the practice of a ‘good’ physiotherapist, being responsive in the ways underscored by participants suggests researchers, educators, and practitioners consider relational ways of practicing as a balance to the technical aspects of physiotherapy.

PMID:35794693 | DOI:10.1080/09593985.2022.2092567

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