Improving patient self-management in upper limb musculoskeletal conditions (Chester_U17SF)

University of East Anglia
August 21 2017
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type

Background: Physiotherapists (PTs) and Occupational Therapists (OTs) recognise the importance of and often report using a biopsychosocial (BPS) approach when managing people with musculoskeletal pain. This is supported by clinical guidelines, a plethora of postgraduate training courses and the literature. However, reports from studies using external observers suggest a predominantly biomedical approach.

Patient self-management in between appointments, particularly in the form of a home exercise or activity plan, is often a key ingredient of therapy interventions. However, patient adherence to self-management can be low and this is associated with a poorer outcome. Within the time constraints of therapy appointments, therapists can find it challenging to explore, identify and discuss the patient's psychosocial and environmental factors that may be facilitators and barriers to self-management. Patient-therapist communication is likely to be a key ingredient in facilitating self-management.

Aim: This research aims to identify the key barriers, facilitators and ingredients to successfully performing a self-management programme from the patient's perspective and to develop an intervention. The focus will be on patient's presenting to physiotherapists and occupational therapists with upper limb musculoskeletal conditions. Objectives: (1) conduct a systematic literature review (2) design a research proposal and gain ethical approval, (3) carry out qualitative research to explore patient's views and preferences, (4) develop an intervention (5) carry out a small study using qualitative and quantitative methods to assess feasibility.

Training Programme: This will include developing skills in quantitative and qualitative research methods, intervention development and evaluation. It will also include wider study skills such as academic writing, evidence synthesis, writing for publication.

Funding notes

This PhD project is offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with funding or those applying to funding sources. Details of tuition fees can be found at

A bench fee may also payable on top of the tuition fee to cover specialist equipment or laboratory costs required for the research. The amount charged annually will vary considerably depending on the nature of the project and applicants should contact the primary supervisor for further information about the fee associated with the project.

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