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Physiotherapists’ views on their role in self-management approaches: A qualitative systematic review

Killingback, Clare; Thompson, Mark; Chipperfield, Sarah; Clark, Carol; Williams, Jonathan


Mark Thompson

Carol Clark

Jonathan Williams


Background: Self-management has been an increasingly important aspect of helping people manage their long-term conditions. The aim of this qualitative review was to synthesize the views of physiotherapists concerning their delivery of a self-management approach.

Method: A systematic search was conducted on six electronic bibliographic databases to identify relevant primary studies. Studies were assessed for quality and data extracted. Qualitative data were analyzed using thematic synthesis. A total of 1189 studies were identified and screened. Eleven studies met the inclusion criteria.

Results: Findings suggest that for self-management approaches to work, physio-therapists believe that patients need to actively participate. Boundaries on who is the expert were blurred at times with some physiotherapists struggling to relinquish control. High-quality patient–therapist relationships are required to build trust in order to support patients in the self-management of their long-term conditions. It is also important to consider the competing paradigms in which a service is delivered as this may facilitate or hinder self-management. Seeing patients as people is integral to supporting self-management approaches.

Conclusion: Physiotherapists are well placed to support self-management but there is still a need for a cultural and paradigmatic shift in the physiotherapy profession and in some environments, this shift as yet is to be realized.


Killingback, C., Thompson, M., Chipperfield, S., Clark, C., & Williams, J. (in press). Physiotherapists’ views on their role in self-management approaches: A qualitative systematic review. Physiotherapy theory and practice, 1-15.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 1, 2021
Online Publication Date Apr 5, 2021
Deposit Date Apr 13, 2021
Publicly Available Date Apr 6, 2022
Journal Physiotherapy Theory and Practice
Print ISSN 0959-3985
Electronic ISSN 1532-5040
Publisher Taylor and Francis
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Pages 1-15
Keywords Physiotherapists; Self-management; Qualitative synthesis
Public URL
Additional Information Peer Review Statement: The publishing and review policy for this title is described in its Aims & Scope.; Aim & Scope:; Received: 2019-12-13; Revised: 2020-12-02; Accepted: 2021-03-01; Published: 2021-04-05