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Good Care Doesn't Always Mean Good Results for Low Back Pain Patients

When patients say they are satisfied with physical therapy treatment, do they mean the treatment itself or the results they get? Patient satisfaction surveys often mix questions about treatment delivery and treatment effect. Researchers at the University of Florida look at patient symptoms to tell the difference.

Sixty-six patients with acute low back pain were included in this study. All were seen by a physical therapist for four weeks. Six months later they filled out a survey by mail. Patients were asked three questions. One question measured satisfaction with the effect of treatment. Two questions measured satisfaction with the way treatment was given.

Results of this study showed that patients were very satisfied with treatment delivery. They were not happy with the results of treatment (treatment effect). The authors conclude that it's possible to be unhappy with treatment that didn't work but happy with the care received.


Steven Z. George, PT, PhD, and Adam T. Hirsh, MS. Distinguishing Patient Satisfaction with Treatment Delivery from Treatment Effect: A Preliminary Investigation of Patient Satisfaction with Symptoms after Physical Therapy Treatment of Low Back Pain. In Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. July 2005. Vol. 86. No. 7. Pp. 1338-1344.

09/29/2005

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