Physical therapists’ assessment of patient self-efficacy for home exercise programs

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International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy


Background Patient adherence to home exercise programs (HEPs) is low, and poor patient self-efficacy is a barrier clinicians can influence. However, little evidence suggests that clinicians assess level of patient self-efficacy before prescribing HEPs. Purpose To determine the importance of patient self-efficacy to physical therapists (PTs) when addressing patient barriers, determine how PTs assess and use patient self-efficacy for HEPs, and describe the barriers facing PTs when assessing patient self-efficacy for HEPs. Study Design Survey. Methods Practicing PTs were recruited from the American Physical Therapy Association’s Orthopedic Section and emailed the electronic survey. Results Email invitations were sent to 17730 potential participants, and 462 PTs completed the survey over one month. PTs rated self-efficacy as “very” to “extremely” important for patient adherence (58%, 265/454). Most (71%, 328/462) reported assessing self-efficacy before prescribing HEPs and did so through verbal discussion and observation of the patient (50% and 38% respectively). Half of respondents individualized HEPs through self-efficacy related themes. PTs not assessing self-efficacy reported not knowing how (51%, 68/134), being unsure what to do with the information (24%, 32/134), or reporting other barriers (21%, 28/134). Conclusions Most PTs indicated that self-efficacy was important for patient adherence, but assessment strategies reported, such as verbal discussion and observation, may not be the most accurate. PTs who did not assess self-efficacy reported not knowing how or what to do with the information once collected. These findings suggest that there is a gap in knowledge related to how to evaluate self-efficacy for HEPs. Better assessment of self-efficacy may lead to more appropriate and effective implementation strategies. Level of Evidence Level II.

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