International Practice Development Journal


Title of ArticleWhat matters versus what’s the matter – exploring perceptions of person-centred practice in nursing and physiotherapy social media communities: a qualitative study
Type of ArticleOriginal Practice Development and Research
Author/sAndrew Ward, Clarissa Eng, Victoria McCue, Ryan Stewart, Kerri Strain, Brendan McCormack, Sharisse Dukhu, Janet Thomas and Cathy Bulley
ReferenceVolume 8, Issue 2, Article 3
Date of PublicationNovember 2018
Keywordsnursing, perceptions, person-centred practice, physiotherapy, qualitative, social media

Background: Person-centred practice is advocated internationally across multiple healthcare contexts and professions. Originating in nursing and medicine, its enactment in physiotherapy requires careful consideration.

Aim: To explore perceptions of person-centred practice within nursing and physiotherapy in online social media communities to gain insight into differences and similarities in how it can be enacted professionally.

Methods: A large, online focus group was undertaken through an international tweetchat within the existing social media communities WeNurses and Physiotalk. Participants were fully informed before participation. Tweets from the tweetchat, which lasted for the planned hour plus an extra 15 minutes, were downloaded via the healthcare social media analytics platform Symplur. Analysis was conducted using an interpretative phenomenological approach, with consideration of group development of insight and meaning.  Tweets were analysed if they were from nurses and physiotherapists, related to the research aim and interpretable.

Results: A selected 233 of 504 tweets from 38 nurses and 23 physiotherapists were analysed. Four themes are discussed here: relationship between professionals and patients; perceptions of who holds the power; treating the condition not the person; and impact of organisational demands. Nurses and physiotherapists were seen to share many perceptions of person-centred practice, with the latter demonstrating a focus on informed decision making and education to empower. Discussion also showed that a biomedical approach was often taken by physiotherapists. Patient privacy was highlighted by nurses. Explanatory theory was produced to incorporate the views of physiotherapists alongside established perceptions of person-centred practice from the nursing literature, expanding insights into profession-specific applications.

Conclusions: Perceptions of person-centred practice described by participants were generally supportive of existing frameworks. Insights suggested some physiotherapists might perceive their professional role in a way that is not completely consistent with person-centred practice; this would benefit from further exploration. The importance of education to empower patients within collaborative relationships was emphasised in relation to physiotherapy.

Implications for practice:

  • Discussion supported many similarities in the perceptions of person-centred practice between nursing and physiotherapy online communities that resonate with existing frameworks, including prioritisation of what matters to the person and empowerment through relationship, and the barriers to this resulting from structures and cultures within workplaces
  • Participants from both professions emphasised the importance of focusing on the beliefs, values and priorities of the person in development of a collaborative relationship, with shared decision making
  • Physiotherapists involved in the tweetchat placed additional emphasis on the need to empower patients through education to enable greater participation in informed and shared decision making
  • Tweets suggested there are professional barriers to the enactment of person-centred practice among physiotherapists. Some may focus on the condition rather than the person, and view the professional as expert with greater power in the therapeutic relationship

This article by Andrew Ward, Clarissa Eng, Victoria McCue, Ryan Stewart, Kerri Strain, Brendan McCormack, Sharisse Dukhu, Janet Thomas and Cathy Bulley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 License.

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