Background: Little knowledge is available on the attributes pertaining to physiotherapy care that patients consider most important.
Objectives: To establish patients' priorities with regard to outpatient physiotherapy care and to determine the association between gender, age, level of education, perceived health, frequency of visiting a physiotherapist (PT), and patients' priorities. DESIGN, PARTICIPANTS AND METHODS: 8 Focus group discussions that were conducted with 53 patients were used to generate aspects of care that were considered important for patients. Subsequently, a self-administered questionnaire, consisting of the aspects of care that were revealed in the focus group discussions, was handed out to 20 consecutively visiting patients by 22 PTs who were working in an outpatient private practice. The patients were asked to rate the importance of each aspect.
Results: The focus group discussions generated 48 aspects of care that were included in the questionnaire; 358 (81%) patients returned the questionnaire. All the proposed aspects were perceived as being important. The most important aspect was that "the PT is expert in his professional field." Patients who were older, received a lower level of education, were less healthy, and attended more frequently, indicated more aspects as important; however, the different subgroups ranked the priorities, to a large extent, in the same manner.
Discussion and conclusion: The findings of the survey can be used to make PTs more responsive to the expectations of patients, to educate patients about the role of physiotherapy care, and to develop instruments for measuring patients' experience and satisfaction with physiotherapy care.
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