Patient- and Physical Therapist-Level Predictors of Patient-Reported Therapeutic Alliance: An Observational, Exploratory Study of Cohorts With Knee and Low Back Pain

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Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation


OBJECTIVE: To identify patient- and physical therapist-level predictors for therapeutic alliance at the end of an episode of physical therapy for knee or low back pain (LBP). DESIGN: Secondary analysis of observational cohort. SETTING: Outpatient physical therapy clinics. PARTICIPANTS: Patients receiving physical therapy for knee (n=189) or LBP (n=252) and physical therapists (n=19). Candidate predictor variables included demographics, patient clinical characteristics, and physical therapist attitudes and beliefs (Pain Attitudes and Beliefs Scale for Physical Therapists) and confidence in providing patient-centered care (Self-Efficacy in Patient-Centeredness Questionnaire). INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Patient-reported therapeutic alliance was measured using the 12-item Work Alliance Inventory-Short Revised (WAI-SR). RESULTS: Final linear mixed models indicated different patient- and physical therapist-level factor contributions in predicting final WAI-SR scores across cohorts with knee and LBP. Female sex was a consistent patient-level predictor for both knee (estimated β=1.57, P<.05) and LBP (β=1.42, P<.05), with age (β=-0.07, P<.01) and baseline function (β=0.06, P<.01) contributing to cohorts with knee and LBP, respectively. Physical therapist-level predictors included female sex (β=6.04, P<.05), Pain Attitudes and Beliefs Scale for Physiotherapists behavioral (β=0.65, P<.01), and Self-Efficacy in Patient-Centeredness Questionnaire (SEPCQ) Exploring Patient Perspective (β=-0.75, P<.01) subscale scores for LBP, with SEPCQ Sharing Information and Power subscale scores (β=0.56, P<.05) contributing to both cohorts with knee (β=0.56, P<.05) and LBP (β=0.74, P<.01). Random effects for patients nested within physical therapists were observed for both cohorts. CONCLUSIONS: These findings provide preliminary evidence for inconsistent relationships among patient- and physical therapist-level factors and therapeutic alliance across cohorts with knee and LBP.

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