Article Text

PDF

A randomised controlled trial. Shifting boundaries of doctors and physiotherapists in orthopaedic outpatient departments.
  1. G Daker-White,
  2. A J Carr,
  3. I Harvey,
  4. G Woolhead,
  5. G Bannister,
  6. I Nelson,
  7. M Kammerling
  1. Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol.

    Abstract

    OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of specially trained physiotherapists in the assessment and management of defined referrals to hospital orthopaedic departments. DESIGN: Randomised controlled trial. SETTING: Orthopaedic outpatient departments in two hospitals. SUBJECTS: 481 patients with musculoskeletal problems referred for specialist orthopaedic opinion. INTERVENTIONS: Initial assessment and management undertaken by post-Fellowship junior orthopaedic surgeons, or by specially trained physiotherapists working in an extended role (orthopaedic physiotherapy specialists). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Patient centred measures of pain, functional disability and perceived handicap. RESULTS: A total of 654 patients were eligible to join the trial, 481 (73.6%) gave their consent to be randomised. The two arms (doctor n = 244, physiotherapist n = 237) were similar at baseline. Baseline and follow up questionnaires were completed by 383 patients (79.6%). The mean time to follow up was 5.6 months after randomisation, with similar distributions of intervals to follow up in both arms. The only outcome for which there was a statistically or clinically important difference between arms was in a measure of patient satisfaction, which favoured the physiotherapist arm. A cost minimisation analysis showed no significant differences in direct costs to the patient or NHS primary care costs. Direct hospital costs were lower (p < 0.00001) in the physiotherapist arm (mean cost per patient = 256 Pounds, n = 232), as they were less likely to order radiographs and to refer patients for orthopaedic surgery than were the junior doctors (mean cost per patient in arm = 498 Pounds, n = 238). CONCLUSIONS: On the basis of the patient centred outcomes measured in this randomised trial, orthopaedic physiotherapy specialists are as effective as post-Fellowship junior staff and clinical assistant orthopaedic surgeons in the initial assessment and management of new referrals to outpatient orthopaedic departments, and generate lower initial direct hospital costs.

    Statistics from Altmetric.com

    Request permissions

    If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.