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Musculoskeletal services in primary care in the Republic of Ireland: an insight into the perspective of physiotherapists

Abstract

Objectives

With a shift in musculoskeletal physiotherapy from secondary to primary care in Ireland, this study aimed to explore physiotherapists’ experiences of providing musculoskeletal physiotherapy in primary care to gain an insight into their changing roles, challenges in service delivery and continuing professional development (CPD) needs.

Design

Qualitative design using focus group interviews.

Setting

Primary care physiotherapy services in the Republic of Ireland.

Participants

Four focus groups with four junior and 15 senior physiotherapists working in a musculoskeletal public primary care setting took place nationally, representing an urban and rural case mix.

Results

Physiotherapists identified significant differences in the provision of musculoskeletal physiotherapy services across primary care sites. A number of environmental barriers were identified that impacted on service delivery, including physical infrastructure, equipment, interaction with acute sites, administration support and engagement in CPD. The role of the physiotherapist in the context of the broader multidisciplinary team also emerged as a theme, as well as the balance between the generalist versus specialist role of the physiotherapist in the primary care setting.

Conclusions

Considerable variation exists in the provision of physiotherapy, and CPD opportunities and support across primary care sites. Future research should focus on pragmatic methods to optimise service delivery and patient care in this setting.

Cite this article

Musculoskeletal services in primary care in the Republic of Ireland: an insight into the perspective of physiotherapists.

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