What do patients expect from physiotherapists in private clinics? A classic grounded theory study

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ABSTRACT Purpose: The aim of this classic grounded theory study was to develop a substantive theory explaining variations in patients’ expectations of physiotherapists when contacting a clinic. Materials and methods: The study was nested in a survey cohort study, and data constituted a single open-ended question: State what you expect the physiotherapist to help you with. Responses were obtained from patients before attending the clinic. Statements were analysed using classic grounded theory with open, selective, and theoretical coding. The authors concurrently used memos and constant comparison until theoretical saturation was achieved, categories were identified, and a theoretical model was developed. Results: Based on 292 statements from patients primarily suffering from musculoskeletal problems, the theory grounded in data Expectations as a continuum was developed. Four typologies created the theory: (1) Doing something, so it is again possible to…, (2) Finding out what is wrong with me, (3) Relieving/getting rid of symptoms, and (4) Help to self-help. Conclusions: The theory Expectations as a continuum illuminates that patients’ expectations range from helplessness to being competent to act and reflect the social cognitive theories health locus of control and self-efficacy. Patients’ abilities for self-management are different, and physiotherapists should carefully adjust the requirements for self-management.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Physiotherapy
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)203-212
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • health, nutrition and quality of life


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