Development of an implementation strategy for physiotherapy guidelines on low back pain

Aust J Physiother. 2003;49(3):208-14. doi: 10.1016/s0004-9514(14)60240-3.


In the Netherlands, clinical practice physiotherapy guidelines are mainly implemented by using passive implementation strategies. It is well known that these strategies are not effective in establishing changes in behaviour of health care professionals. Therefore, a new implementation strategy was developed for the physiotherapy guidelines on low back pain. This paper describes the method for the design of this strategy. A survey was conducted of 100 physiotherapy practices to identify perceived barriers to implementation of the guidelines and the most important discrepancies between current practice and recommendations of the guidelines. The strategy was further developed using a model for changing professionals' behaviour and systematic reviews on the effectiveness of implementation interventions. The most frequently reported barriers for implementation of the guidelines are related to a lack of knowledge or skills of physiotherapists. The most frequently reported discrepancies between physiotherapy practice and guidelines recommendations were related to the focus of the diagnostic process on impairments, the common use of passive physiotherapeutic interventions, the frequent use of a pain-contingent approach, and the expectations of the patient. The new implementation strategy consisted of multiple interventions, namely education, discussion, role-playing, feedback and reminders. The strategy addressed perceived barriers and discrepancies between current practice and the recommendations of the guidelines.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence / standards
  • Clinical Competence / statistics & numerical data
  • Education, Continuing / methods
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence / organization & administration*
  • Guideline Adherence / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Plan Implementation / methods*
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / diagnosis
  • Low Back Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Male
  • Netherlands
  • Physical Therapy Specialty / education
  • Physical Therapy Specialty / standards*
  • Physical Therapy Specialty / statistics & numerical data*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Program Development / methods