Goal setting for patients experiencing musculoskeletal pain: An evocative autoethnography

Jenny Alexanders, Caroline Douglas

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    Introduction: Musculoskeletal referrals within physiotherapy are continuing to rise and pain is a common symptom which patients typically present with. Patients reporting pain following injury, or who have developed chronic pain often experience a range of physical and psychological symptoms, therefore the need to treat patients within a bio-psychosocial model is of paramount importance. Self-management is a common approach when treating patients who experience musculoskeletal pain and goal setting is an essential, and indispensable component of this. Appropriate use of goal setting has been shown to be an effective tool in pain management by improving therapeutic alliance, self-efficacy and patient adherence.

    Aim: The primary aim of this paper is based on the principle researcher’s (Jenny) personal and professional experiences of goal setting to explore patient needs within contemporary physiotherapy practice.

    Design: This study is centred on an evocative auto-ethnography.

    Results: Two distinct themes emerged from the narrated experiences. A physiotherapy mandated approach with little regard of the patient concerned was evident and that goal setting practices appeared to lack any process, which may not give patients an appropriate platform to effectively self-manage.

    Conclusion: Establishing a therapeutic rapport is essential to improve the implementation of goal setting in pain management. Following a thorough process when setting goals ensures that all important aspects of the goal setting process are considered to enable patients to self-manage.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)20-25
    Number of pages5
    JournalPain and Rehabilitation: The Journal of the Physiotherapy Pain Association
    Issue number45
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


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