Patients value patient-therapist interactions more than the amount or content of therapy during inpatient rehabilitation: a qualitative study

J Physiother. 2012;58(4):261-8. doi: 10.1016/S1836-9553(12)70128-5.


Question: How do patients receiving inpatient rehabilitation experience physiotherapy and does their experience differ if they receive extra Saturday physiotherapy?

Design: Qualitative study using in-depth interviews and thematic analysis. Interviews were audio-taped, transcribed, member checked and coded independently by two researchers. Data were triangulated using published quantitative data.

Participants: Nineteen adults undergoing inpatient rehabilitation for neurological and musculoskeletal impairments who received either usual care (Monday to Friday therapy) or additional Saturday therapy.

Results: One main theme (personal interactions), and five sub-themes (empathetic and caring physiotherapists, socialisation with other patients, alleviated boredom, changed perceptions of the weekend, and contentment with amount of therapy) emerged from the data. Patients valued interacting with physiotherapists and other patients. Patients were content with the amount of physiotherapy whether or not they had additional Saturday physiotherapy. However, having additional Saturday physiotherapy changed the patients' perceptions of Saturdays; patients who received Saturday physiotherapy viewed Saturday as a day where they would be working towards improving their function, while patients who did not receive Saturday physiotherapy expected to rest on the weekend.

Conclusion: The patient-therapist interaction was more important to the patient than the amount or content of their physiotherapy, but Saturday therapy changed patients' perceptions of weekends in rehabilitation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip / psychology
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip / rehabilitation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inpatients / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Physical Therapists / psychology*
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Stroke / psychology
  • Stroke Rehabilitation