Telephone-Delivered Physiotherapy Interventions Improve Physical Function for Adults With a Chronic Condition: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2022 Jan;103(1):131-144.e14. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2021.05.022. Epub 2021 Aug 18.


Objective: To investigate the efficacy of telephone-delivered physiotherapy interventions to improve lower extremity physical function and walking in adults aged ≥45 years with a chronic condition.

Data sources: A literature search was conducted using health databases (MEDLINE, PsychINFO, EMBASE, The Allied and Complementary Medicine Database, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature) up to April 26, 2020. Reference lists of relevant studies were explored to identify additional studies.

Study selection: The original search resulted in 3465 studies. Five other studies were included from hand searches. After duplicates were removed, 2820 studies remained. Title and abstract screening was completed independently by 2 authors and resulted in the exclusion of 2596 studies. The full-texts of the remaining 224 articles were assessed and 204 studies were excluded. Twenty articles were examined.

Data extraction: Data were extracted independently by 2 authors, including study, population, and intervention details; assessment timings; outcome characteristics; appropriateness of statistical methods; adverse events; and reasons for loss to follow-up. Study quality was evaluated using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation approach.

Data synthesis: Twenty studies were included in the systematic review. One study was not meta-analyzed owing to insufficient data. Telephone-delivered physiotherapy had a small to moderate effect on distance walked compared with control groups with no exercise intervention (standardized mean difference [SMD], 0.28; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.00-0.56; I2, 45%) and no effect when compared with control groups with an exercise intervention not delivered by telephone (SMD, 0.08; 95% CI, -0.19 to 0.36; I2, 0%).

Conclusion: Telephone-delivered physiotherapy may be an effective method to improve walking. Further research is required to validate these findings.

Keywords: Meta-analysis; Physical functional performance; Randomized controlled trial; Rehabilitation; Systematic review; Telephone; Walking.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Functional Performance*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Telephone*
  • Telerehabilitation / methods*
  • Walk Test
  • Walking*