Satisfaction with outpatient physiotherapy: a survey comparing the views of patients with acute and chronic musculoskeletal conditions

Physiother Theory Pract. 2007 Jan-Feb;23(1):21-36. doi: 10.1080/09593980601147876.


Patient satisfaction is a complex construct and is regarded as an important component in the assessment of care quality. Investigations into patient satisfaction with care have steadily increased across a range of specialties over the last three decades, but there has been a paucity of studies into satisfaction with physiotherapy. The limitations of previous instruments used to examine satisfaction with outpatient (OP) physiotherapy suggested the need for a new tool. The aim of the survey was to examine the level of satisfaction that patients with acute and chronic musculoskeletal conditions have with their physiotherapy outpatient treatment within the NHS system of care in the UK. Questionnaires were mailed to 420 patients with acute and chronic musculoskeletal conditions who had recently completed a course of OP physiotherapy. The 38-item self-completion questionnaire comprised six subscales; Expectation, Communication, Therapist, Organisation, Outcome, and Satisfaction, scored on a five-point Likert scale. Data were analysed by using SPSS Release 10 for Windows for frequency distribution of scores and regression analysis for factors predictive of satisfaction. The response rate was 66%. Results showed that patients were generally satisfied with the interpersonal, technical, and organisational aspects of care, although there was lower satisfaction with the clinical outcome in both groups. Organisational issues were the key determinants of satisfaction for the whole sample and the chronic group, with the therapist as key determinant for the acute group. Patient satisfaction surveys conducted as part of a continuous quality improvement programme are particularly important in providing therapists with feedback from patients about their experiences of physiotherapy services. This study has successfully used a new questionnaire to examine patients' satisfaction with outpatient physiotherapy in the United Kingdom. Further studies are now needed to validate the new questionnaire so that it can be incorporated into general physiotherapy practice as part of a regular audit programme.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chronic Disease
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / rehabilitation*
  • Outpatients
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires