Implementing change in physiotherapy: professions, contexts and interventions

Tom Sanders, Bie Nio Ong, Gail Sowden, Nadine Foster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


– The purpose of this paper is to report findings from qualitative interviews with physiotherapists to demonstrate why even minor changes to clinical work resulting from the introduction of new interventions, are often difficult to implement. The paper seeks to illustrate how some of the obstacles to implementing change were managed by physiotherapists.

– A total of 32 qualitative interviews with participating physiotherapists were conducted, 12 interviews prior to the introduction of the new system, and 20 afterwards. The interviews were coded and analysed thematically.

– The findings reveal a number of perceived limitations of current management of low back pain and identify key themes around convergence with the new approach, such as willingness by physiotherapists to adopt the new approach, the perception of benefits to adopting the new approach, as well as some difficulty in adjusting to it. The authors refer to the positive and negative elements as “soft” and “hard” disruption. The adoption of the new approach is explored with reference to the “situated” dimensions of physiotherapy practice and normalisation process theory.

Research limitations/implications
– The study raises the need to conduct future observational research to support the interview findings.

– The study describes the “situated” components of physiotherapy work, which have received limited research attention. The value of the study lies less in its ability to explain specifically why physiotherapists adopted or rejected the new system, but in describing the conditions and consequences of change that might be translated to other professions, contexts and interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-114
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Health Organization and Management
Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2014


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