Perceptions of Patients and Physiotherapists on Patient Participation: A Narrative Synthesis of Qualitative Studies

Veronika Schoeb Mezzanotte Amat, Elisabeth Bürge

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Purpose: Patient participation is nowadays considered important for high quality patient care. Although the literature on health care professions provides some insights into this topic, specific aspects in the field of physiotherapy are less known. The objective of this review was to investigate how patients and physiotherapists perceive patient participation, especially in regards to what it means for them and the role patients play during physiotherapy treatment sessions. Methods: We used a narrative synthesis of qualitative studies. We conducted a systematic search in six databases using a set of key words, extracted relevant data, performed quality assessment and synthesized findings from the selected studies. Results: Out of 160 studies, 11 were retained. Two main themes emerged: the conceptualization of patient participation and the patients' role preferences. Patient participation included various activities including goal setting, information exchange, decision-making and exercise training and often influenced the power relation between patient and physiotherapist. Patients' willingness to participate varied, and they often did not play their desired role. Conclusions: Patients and physiotherapists perceived participation to be valuable yet challenging. Problems of conceptualization, power inequalities, lack of health professionals' skills and lack of the right attitude to share power and responsibility from both sides were some of the barriers that impeded optimal participation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-91
Number of pages12
JournalPhysiotherapy Research International
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Patient participation
  • Perceptions
  • Physiotherapy
  • Qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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