Expanded role for the physical therapist. Screening musculoskeletal disorders

Phys Ther. 1975 Feb;55(2):121-31. doi: 10.1093/ptj/55.2.121.


The primary purpose of this study conducted at two army hospitals was to evaluate the feasibility of using the physical therapist as the primary 'screener' for patients presenting with a complaint of low back pain. The study was organized into two phases. A base line phase consisted of a data collection period under standard operating conditions. Patient waiting times, treatment times, and total care times were measured for patients presenting to various clinics with a complaint of low back pain. The same data were collected during a screeing phase in which all patients presenting with a complaint of low back pain were referred directly to the physical therapist for primary evaluation. An assessment of physical therapist and patient satisfaction and acceptance was made. The quality of care rendered in the screeing clinic was assessed through patient interviews, physician interviews, and record reviews. This concept and the quality of care rendered were found to be acceptable to the patient, the physician, and the physical therapist.

MeSH terms

  • Back Pain / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening*
  • Military Medicine
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Quality of Health Care