Identifying goals, roles and tasks of extended scope physiotherapy in Dutch primary care- an exploratory, qualitative multi-step study

Authors Ferdinand Bastiaens, Di-Janne Barten, Cindy Veenhof
Published in BMC Health Services Research
Publication date 6 January 2021
Research groups Innovation of Movement Care
Type Article


Background: Rising healthcare costs, an increasing general practitioner shortage and an aging population have made healthcare organization transformation a priority. To meet these challenges, traditional roles of non-medical members have been reconsidered. Within the domain of physiotherapy, there has been significant interest in Extended Scope Physiotherapy (ESP). Although studies have focused on the perceptions of different stakeholders in relation to ESP, there is a large variety in the interpretation of ESP. Aim: To identify a paradigm of ESP incorporating goals, roles and tasks, to provide a consistent approach for the implementation of ESP in primary care. Methods: An exploratory, qualitative multi-step design was used containing a scoping review, focus groups and semi-structured interviews. The study population consisted of patients, physiotherapists, general practitioners and indirect stakeholders such as lecturers, health insurers and policymakers related to primary care physiotherapy. The main topics discussed in the focus groups and semi-structured interviews were the goals, skills and roles affiliated with ESP. The ‘framework’ method, developed by Ritchie & Spencer, was used as analytical approach to refine the framework. Results: Two focus groups and twelve semi-structured interviews were conducted to explore stakeholder perspectives on ESP in Dutch primary care. A total of 11 physiotherapists, six general practitioners, five patients and four indirect stakeholders participated in the study. There was a lot of support for ‘decreasing healthcare costs’, ‘tackling increased health demand’ and ‘improving healthcare effectiveness’ as main goals of ESP. The most agreement was reached on ‘triaging’, ‘referring to specialists’ and ‘ordering diagnostic imaging’ as tasks fitting for ESP. Most stakeholders also supported ‘working in a multidisciplinary team’, ‘working as a consultant’ and ‘an ESP role separated from a physiotherapist role’ as roles of ESP. Conclusions: Based on the scoping review, focus groups and interviews with direct and indirect stakeholders, it appears that there is sufficient support for ESP in the Netherlands. This study provides a clear presentation of how ESP can be conceptualized in primary care. A pilot focused on determining the feasibility of ESP in Dutch primary care will be the next step.

On this publication contributed

  • Di-Janne Barten | Researcher | Research group Innovation of Movement Care
    Di-Janne Barten
    • Researcher
    • Research group: Innovation of Movement Care
  • Cindy Veenhof portret
    Cindy Veenhof
    • Professor
    • Research group: Innovation of Movement Care

Language English
Published in BMC Health Services Research
Key words physical therapy modalities, extended scope, multi-step design, primary health care
Digital Object Identifier

Innovation of Movement Care