Patient satisfaction with musculoskeletal physical therapy care: A systematic review

Julia M. Hush, Kirsten Cameron, Martin Mackey

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

166 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Patient satisfaction is an important patient-centered health outcome. To date, no systematic review of the literature on patient satisfaction with musculoskeletal physical therapy care has been conducted. Purpose. The purpose of this study was to systematically and critically review the literature to determine the degree of patient satisfaction with musculoskeletal physical therapy care and factors associated with satisfaction. Data Sources. The databases CINAHL, MEDLINE, and EBM Reviews were searched from inception to September 2009. Study Selection. Articles were included if the design was a clinical trial, observational study, survey, or qualitative study; patient satisfaction was evaluated; and the study related to the delivery of musculoskeletal physical therapy services conducted in an outpatient setting. The search located 3,790 citations. Fifteen studies met the inclusion criteria. Data Extraction. Two authors extracted patient satisfaction data and details of each study. Data Synthesis. A meta-analysis of patient satisfaction data from 7 studies was conducted. The pooled estimate of patient satisfaction was 4.44 (95% confidence interva=4.41- 4.46) on a scale of 1 to 5, where 5 indicates high satisfaction and 1 indicates high dissatisfaction. Additional data were summarized in tables and critically appraised. Limitations. Nonrespondent bias from individual studies may affect the accuracy and representativeness of these data. Conclusion. Patients are highly satisfied with musculoskeletal physical therapy care delivered across outpatient settings in northern Europe, North America, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. The interpersonal attributes of the therapist and the process of care are key determinants of patient satisfaction. An unexpected finding was that treatment outcome was infrequently and inconsistently associated with patient satisfaction. Physical therapists can enhance the quality of patient-centered care by understanding and optimizing these determinants of patient satisfaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-36
Number of pages12
JournalPhysical Therapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes


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