April/May 2013 (vol. 09/6)

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Research Plus

Telephone-based physio

Telephone-based NHS physiotherapy assessment and advisory services (‘PhysioDirect’ – PD) are at least as clinically effective and cost effective as waiting-list face-to-face care, according to this randomised controlled trial. PD patients telephone the physiotherapist for an initial assessment and are triaged as appropriate: advice on self-management and exercise; face-to-face consultation; or referred back to their GP or other heath professional. A total of 1,513 adult musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) patients were randomly assigned to four new PD services. ‘Usual care’ patients (n = 743) were put on a waiting list for face-to- face assessment and treatment. Outcomes were assessed at six months. Those in the PD group had significantly fewer consultations overall (2.87) compared with usual care (3.25) and were 4.5-times more likely to receive at least one consultation within six weeks (p < 0.001). There were no significant differences in the primary outcomes. Patient satisfaction was slightly lower with PD.

Health Technology Assessment 2013; 17(2). doi:10.3310/hta17020. http://www.nets.nihr.ac.uk/programmes/hta


Occupational Health at Work April/May 2013 (vol. 09/6) pp16-17