Physiotherapy-led triage clinic for low back pain

Aust Health Rev. 2009 Nov;33(4):663-70. doi: 10.1071/ah090663.


The aims of this study were to evaluate a physiotherapy-led triage clinic (PLTC) and investigate general practitioner satisfaction with the PLTC. A retrospective cohort study was undertaken from January to December 2005 at a Melbourne tertiary teaching hospital. Outcomes assessed included waiting times to first appointment, patient attendance and surgery conversion rates. Outcomes were compared with the hospital 2002 benchmark data. GP satisfaction was evaluated by a survey. One-hundred and five new patients attended the PLTC clinic during the evaluation period. Patients waited 9 weeks for a PLTC appointment compared with 26 weeks for the general orthopaedic clinic and 23 weeks for the spinal orthopaedic clinic. Sixty-seven percent of the patients triaged in the PLTC were discharged from the orthopaedic outpatient department without requiring an orthopaedic surgeon consultation. Referring GPs were at least as satisfied with the management of their patients through the PLTC as with usual management in the general orthopaedic clinic. A PLTC can significantly reduce waiting times for orthopaedic outpatient appointments in a public hospital. Many patients can be managed by these experienced physiotherapists and their GPs, without the need for face-to-face contact with an orthopaedic surgeon. Pilot results indicated that GPs whose patients are managed in this PLTC were satisfied with this model for their patients with low back conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Efficiency, Organizational
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / diagnosis*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Physical Therapy Specialty*
  • Physicians, Family / psychology
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Triage*
  • Waiting Lists