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Experiences and perceptions of trial participants and healthcare professionals in the UK Frozen Shoulder Trial (UK FROST): a nested qualitative study

Srikesavan, Cynthia; Toye, Francine; Brealey, Stephen; Goodchild, Lorna; Northgraves, Matthew; Charalambous, Charalambos P; Rangan, Amar; Lamb, Sarah


Cynthia Srikesavan

Francine Toye

Stephen Brealey

Lorna Goodchild

Charalambos P Charalambous

Amar Rangan

Sarah Lamb


Objectives To explore the experiences and perceptions of trial participants and healthcare professionals in the UK Frozen Shoulder Trial (UK FROST), a multicentre randomised controlled trial that compared manipulation under anaesthesia (MUA), arthroscopic capsular release (ACR) with a 12-week early structured physiotherapy programme (ESP) in people with unilateral frozen shoulder referred to secondary care. Design Nested qualitative study with semistructured interviews. We used constant comparison method to develop our themes. Setting This qualitative study was nested within the UK FROST. Participants 44 trial participants (ESP: 14; MUA: 15; ACR: 15), and 8 surgeons and 8 physiotherapists who delivered the treatments in the trial. Results Trial participants found UK FROST treatments acceptable and satisfactory in terms of content, delivery and treatment benefits. Participants in all arms experienced improvements in pain, shoulder movements, and function. Participants said they would choose the same treatment that they received in the trial. Surgeons and physiotherapists felt that the content and delivery of UK FROST treatments was not significantly different to their routine practice except for the additional number of physiotherapy sessions offered in the trial. They had mixed feelings about the effectiveness of UK FROST treatments. Both stressed the value of including hydrodilatation as a comparator of other treatment options. Physiotherapists raised concerns about the capacity to deliver the number of UK FROST physiotherapy sessions in routine clinical settings. Shared perceptions of trial participants, surgeons and physiotherapists were: (1) Pain relief and return of shoulder movements and function are important outcomes and (2) Adherence to exercises leads to better outcomes. Conclusion In general, our findings indicated that trial participants, and surgeons and physiotherapists who delivered the treatments had positive experiences and perceptions in the UK FROST. Early qualitative investigations to explore the feasibility of delivering treatments in real-world settings are suggested in future trials in the frozen shoulder. Trial registration number International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Register, ID: ISRCTN48804508. Registered on 25 July 2014; Results


Srikesavan, C., Toye, F., Brealey, S., Goodchild, L., Northgraves, M., Charalambous, C. P., …Lamb, S. (2021). Experiences and perceptions of trial participants and healthcare professionals in the UK Frozen Shoulder Trial (UK FROST): a nested qualitative study. BMJ open, 11(6), Article e040829.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 12, 2021
Online Publication Date Jun 11, 2021
Publication Date Jun 11, 2021
Deposit Date Jun 16, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jun 17, 2021
Journal BMJ Open
Print ISSN 2044-6055
Electronic ISSN 2044-6055
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 11
Issue 6
Article Number e040829
Public URL
Publisher URL


Published article (442 Kb)

Copyright Statement
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2021. Re-use permitted under CC BY. Published by BMJ.
This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See:

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