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Communication and Medicine

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Official recommendations and actual practice in physiotherapy: Managing troubles of physical performance

Ruth Helen Parry
Published Online: 2005-10-13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/come.2005.2.2.151

Abstract

This paper explores relations between official written recommendations for physiotherapists and actual practice. It does so by presenting and discussing findings from a conversation analytic study of 74 physiotherapy treatment sessions video-recorded in four English hospitals. Various practices are described by which therapists address troubles of ongoing or recent physical performance by patients during phases of sessions that are occupied with therapists’ instructions in treatment activities and patients’ physical responses. Divergence between practice and official guidance can be observed, particularly regarding recommendations that therapists always be unambiguous and clear in their communication with patients. Also, there seem to be conflicting demands between maintaining performance of physical treatment activities, whilst also spending time giving patients information and explanation about troubles of performance, and checking their understanding (as is recommended). There are also conflicting demands between individual recommendations. These observations inform a discussion of the wider challenges involved in formulating relevant, appropriate official guidance on communication practice. I argue that the difficulties of auditing actual conduct against official recommendations on interaction should be acknowledged, and that recommendations should be explicitly tentative and broad. Conversation analytic studies can provide resources and understandings to complement and augment such official guidance.

About the article

Published Online: 2005-10-13

Published in Print: 2005-10-26


Citation Information: Communication & Medicine, Volume 2, Issue 2, Pages 151–161, ISSN (Print) 1612-1783, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/come.2005.2.2.151.

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