An exploration of UK student physiotherapists goal setting practices within anterior cruciate ligament rehabilitation

Jen Alexanders, Paul Chesterton, Anna Brooks, Jo Kaye

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Background: Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries are a common and complex injury coupled with a lengthy rehabilitation. Goal setting is an effective psychological tool within ACL rehabilitation due to its simplicity and is commonly used amongst sport and health professionals. To date, literature surrounding goal setting practices has only focused on qualified therapists, therefore the central aim of this study was to explore UK student physiotherapist’s perceptions towards goal setting practices used in ACL rehabilitation and whether they feel prepared for practice.
Method: Semi-structured interviews involving 11 participants from one UK University was conducted using an inductive approach. Data analysis included thematic analysis with triangulation and a comprehensive 5 stage analysis process to enhance confirmability and credibility, whilst respecting ethical considerations.
Results/Discussion: Participants reported some understanding of goal setting and the importance of involving the patient during this process. However, participants negatively experienced goal setting practices as being mainly therapist/protocol led. The training participants received on goal setting was minimal, but further training was welcomed by all participants. The findings were consistent with previous UK and international research surrounding inadequate education and training across sport and health professionals when applying goal setting practice within ACL rehabilitation.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that initially, a review of the psychological content of sport and health professional’s courses is warranted to clearly identify potential knowledge gaps. There is also an opportunity whereby a global specialist interest group could be designed to share psychological practices and globally connect like-minded sport and health professionals together.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMusculoskeletal Care
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2020


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