Use and users of physiotherapy in an outpatient practice in primary health

Scientific article in Fysioterapeuten 9/2014.


Gro Opseth, fysioterapeut, spesialist i manuellterapi og primærkontakt, MSc, Helsefagvitenskap. Hans & Olaf Fysioterapi AS. Vitenskapelig assistent i FYSIOPRIM ved Seksjon for helsefag, Medisinsk fakultet, Universitetet i Oslo. 

Astrid Klopstad Wahl, dr.polit, professor, Seksjon for helsefag, Medisinsk fakultet, Universitetet i Oslo.

Gustav Bjørke, fysioterapeut, spesialist i manuellterapi og primærkontakt. Hans & Olaf Fysioterapi AS.

Anne Marit Mengshoel, fysioterapeut, dr.philos, professor. Seksjon for helsefag, Medisinsk fakultet, Universitetet i Oslo.


Aim: To examine demographic variables, use of health services, expectation of physiotherapy efficiency, pain characteristics of patients in a physiotherapy out-patient practice in Norway, and to examine whether regular users of physiotherapy differ from non-regular users.

Method: This study is a quantitative cross-sectional survey.  All patients aged between 18 to 70 years visiting a physiotherapy out-patient practice in Oslo during a week in January 2010 were asked to participate.

Results: Five-hundred and seven patients with a mean age of 46.4 years participated. Seventy percent were women, 72% had college or university education, 78% were employed and 74% had a pain duration of more than six months. Fifty-three percent were examined by x-rays and 56% with magnetic resonance imagining. Thirty-six percent were regular users of physiotherapy and of those 68% were employed. The regular users more frequently were examined by radiology (p < 0.001), their pain had more often lasted for more than one year (p < 0.001) compared to patients who did not go regularly to physiotherapy. Among the regular users, 30 % of the patients expected to become well again compared to 63% of the non-regulars.

Conclusion:  Most patients at this out-patient physiotherapy practice were employed, suffered from long-lasting musculoskeletal pain, and often expected to become well again. They were high consumers of other health services. About one third of the patients were regular users of physiotherapy, and this group scored worse than the non-regular users on pain variables, utilized more frequently other health services and had lower expectations to the effect of physical therapy.

Keywords: physiotherapy, out-patient physiotherapy practice, musculoskeletal pain, work participation, health expectations, health service utilization, primary health care.

Full article in Norwegian