Physiotherapists should apply health coaching techniques and incorporate accountability to foster adherence to a walking program for low back pain: a qualitative study.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
J Physiother, 2023, 69, (3), pp. 182-188
Issue Date:
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QUESTIONS: What motivates individuals to start a walking program for the prevention of low back pain? What strategies optimise short-term and long-term adherence to a walking program? What strategies can physiotherapists incorporate into clinical practice to facilitate commencement of and adherence to a walking program? DESIGN: Qualitative study. PARTICIPANTS: Twenty-two adults recently recovered from an episode of non-specific low back pain who participated in a 6-month, progressive and individualised walking program that was prescribed by a physiotherapist trained in health coaching. METHODS: Semi-structured focus groups conducted online following completion of the walking program. Interview questions explored: primary motivations for starting a walking program, identification of which elements were useful in optimising adherence to the program, and identification of the barriers to and facilitators of engagement with the program. Audio recordings were transcribed and thematic analysis was conducted. RESULTS: Three major themes were identified. Theme one identified that strong motivators to start a walking program were anticipated improvements in low back pain management and the added general health benefits of a more active lifestyle. Theme two identified that fear of high-impact exercises led to avoidance; however, walking was considered a safe exercise option. Theme three identified accountability, enjoyment of exercise and health benefits were critical to adherence. CONCLUSION: Participants recently recovered from low back pain reflected positively on a physiotherapist-prescribed walking program. Participants described what elements of the program were crucial to starting exercise and optimising adherence. These findings have informed a list of practical recommendations for physiotherapists to improve patient commencement and adherence to exercise.
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