Impact and feasibility of a tailor-made patient communication quality improvement programme for hospital-based physiotherapists: a mixed-methods study

Rudi A. Steenbruggen*, Linda Ag Van Heusden-Scholtalbers, Thomas J. Hoogeboom, Marjo Maas, Paul Brand, Philip van Der Wees

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background In tailoring a quality improvement programme for hospital-based physiotherapy, the original use of video recordings was replaced by using the tracer methodology. Objective To examine the impact of a tailor-made quality improvement programme addressing patient communication on the professional development of hospital-based physiotherapists, and to evaluate barriers and facilitators as determinants of feasibility of the programme. Methods A mixed-methods study was conducted. Participants were clustered in groups per hospital and linked with an equally sized group in a nearby hospital. Within the groups, fixed couples carried out a 2-hour tracer by directly observing each other's daily work routine. This procedure was repeated 6 months later. Data from feedback forms were analysed quantitatively, and a thematic analysis of transcripts from group interviews was conducted. Results Fifty hospital-based physiotherapists from 16 hospitals participated. They rated the impact of the programme on professional development, on a scale from 1 (much improvement needed) to 5 (no improvement needed), as 3.99 (SD 0.64) after the first tracer and 4.32 (SD 0.63) 6 months later; a mean improvement of 0.33 (95% CI 0.16 to 0.50). Participants scored, on a scale ranging from 1 to 5 on barriers and facilitators (feasibility), a mean of 3.45 (SD 0.95) on determinants of innovation, 3.47 (SD 0.86) on probability to use and 2.63 (SD 1.07) on the user feedback list. All participants emphasised the added value of the tracer methodology and mentioned effects on self-reflection and awareness most. Conclusions The tailor-made quality improvement programme, based on principles of the tracer methodology, was associated with a significant impact on professional development. Barriers and facilitators as determinants of feasibility of the programme showed the programme being feasible.

Original languageEnglish
Article number001286
Number of pages9
JournalBMJ open quality
Issue number2
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22-Apr-2021


  • allied health occupations
  • continuing education
  • continuing professional development
  • healthcare quality improvement
  • professional competence
  • quality improvement methodologies
  • CARE

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