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Patient and physiotherapist perceptions of rehabilitation following primary lumbar discectomy: A qualitative focus group study embedded within an external pilot and feasibility trial

Rushton, A and Heneghan, NR and Heap, A and White, L and Calvert, M and Goodwin, PC (2017) Patient and physiotherapist perceptions of rehabilitation following primary lumbar discectomy: A qualitative focus group study embedded within an external pilot and feasibility trial. BMJ Open, 7 (4). ISSN 2044-6055

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Abstract

© 2017 Article author(s). Objective To evaluate patients' and physiotherapists' perceptions, preferences and feelings about rehabilitation following lumbar discectomy surgery. Design A qualitative focus group study, informed from the theoretical perspective of phenomenology, of patients' and physiotherapists' experiences of rehabilitation following lumbar discectomy was conducted. The focus groups were used to explore patients' and physiotherapists' perceptions and their preferences and feelings about different approaches to rehabilitation. The focus groups were facilitated and observed by experienced researchers and were informed by a topic guide that had been piloted previously. Setting The study was embedded within an external pilot and feasibility trial that randomised patients across two secondary care spinal surgery sites in the UK to receive either 1:1 physiotherapy and leaflet or leaflet-only interventions. Participants Five focus groups took place between April and July 2014. A framework analysis of thematic coding (deductive and inductive components) by two researchers captured identified themes common to both patients and physiotherapists. Data from three focus groups with patients and carers (n=11) and two with physiotherapists (n=15) contributed to the analytic framework. Results Emerging themes included: the value of patient leaflets with or without physiotherapy interventions; the importance of self-motivation in the recovery pathway; benefits of group physiotherapy for some patient groups and patient preference influencing rehabilitation. Conclusion Patients and physiotherapists perceived the study patient leaflet and 1:1 physiotherapy interventions as high quality and valuable. Patients' personal priorities, for example, their need to return to work, influenced their preferences for rehabilitation interventions following surgery.

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