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Implement Sci. 2019 Nov 4;14(1):94. doi: 10.1186/s13012-019-0942-y.

Implementation of a behavioral medicine approach in physiotherapy: a process evaluation of facilitation methods.

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School of Health, Care and Social Welfare, Mälardalen University, Box 883, SE-721 23, Västerås, Sweden.
School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Dalarna University, Falun, Sweden.
Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Division of Nursing, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
Department of Health and Care Sciences, The Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
School of Health, Care and Social Welfare, Mälardalen University, Box 883, SE-721 23, Västerås, Sweden.



In a quasi-experimental study, facilitation was used to support implementation of the behavioral medicine approach in physiotherapy. The facilitation consisted of an individually tailored multifaceted intervention including outreach visits, peer coaching, educational materials, individual goal-setting, video feedback, self-monitoring in a diary, manager support, and information leaflets to patients. A behavioral medicine approach implies a focus on health related behavior change. Clinical behavioral change was initiated but not maintained among the participating physiotherapists. To explain these findings, a deeper understanding of the implementation process is necessary. The aim was therefore to explore the impact mechanisms in the implementation of a behavioral medicine approach in physiotherapy by examining dose, reach, and participant experiences.


An explorative mixed-methods design was used as a part of a quasi-experimental trial. Twenty four physiotherapists working in primary health care were included in the quasi-experimental trial, and all physiotherapists in the experimental group (n = 15) were included in the current study. A facilitation intervention based mainly on social cognitive theory was tested during a 6-month period. Data were collected during and after the implementation period by self-reports of time allocation regarding participation in different implementation methods, documentation of individual goals, ranking of the most important implementation methods, and semi-structured interviews. Descriptive statistical methods and inductive content analysis were used.


The physiotherapists participated most frequently in the following implementation methods: outreach visits, peer coaching, educational materials, and individual goal-setting. They also considered these methods to be the most important for implementation, contributing to support for learning, practice, memory, emotions, self-management, and time management. However, time management support from the manager was lacking.


The findings indicate that different mechanisms govern the initiation and maintenance of clinical behavior change. The impact mechanisms for initiation of clinical behavior change refers to the use of externally initiated multiple methods, such as feedback on practice, time management, and extrinsic motivation. The lack of self-regulation capability, intrinsic motivation, and continued support after the implementation intervention period were interpreted as possible mechanisms for the failure of maintaining the behavioral change over time.


Clinical competence; Implementation science; Knowledge translation; Physiotherapy; Primary health care; Self-regulation; Social learning theory

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