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Exploring the negative social evaluation of patients by specialist physiotherapists working in residential intermediate care

Abstract

Background

Residential intermediate care represents an innovative model of care that facilitates early hospital discharge and avoids unnecessary hospital admission. It also represents an environment where patients may demonstrate emotional vulnerability following a period of acute illness or injury, and this may impact on the quality of the patient/physiotherapist relationship.

Objective

To gain an understanding of the negative social evaluation of patients by specialist physiotherapists, and to explore possible coping strategies in order to engage patients in appropriately designed rehabilitation programmes.

Method

Using a grounded theory approach, physiotherapists working in an intermediate care facility in a senior role were invited to participate in a focus group. Following the focus group analysis, a further four physiotherapists, with similar levels of experience to those in the focus group, were recruited to participate in semi-structured interviews to explore the emerging categories in greater depth.

Results

The findings revealed some categories that the therapists believed resided with the patients (alcohol dependency, failing to adapt/accept their condition and patients whose families hindered the process of rehabilitation) and some that appeared to reside within the context of intermediate rehabilitation (labelling, the 6-week model of intermediate care and the process of transition into the service). Coping strategies cited were workforce planning, goal setting and reflective practice.

Conclusion

While supportive strategies have been developed locally to assist staff in managing their anxiety related to therapeutic interactions with ‘difficult patients’, it is also recognised that they have the potential for demotivation and are a possible precursor for stress.

Cite this article

Exploring the negative social evaluation of patients by specialist physiotherapists working in residential intermediate care. Physiotherapy - March 2013 (Vol. 99, Issue 1, Pages 71-77, DOI: 10.1016/j.physio.2011.09.003) Di Thomson, Helen Love

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