Communication between physiotherapists and patients with chronic pain – qualitative analysis

Didzis Rozenbergs, Klāvs Sedlenieks

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


The aim of this qualitative study was to find out how communication is constructed between physiotherapists and patients with chronic pain. Grounded theory approach by Charmaz was applied. Ethnographic observations and audio recordings of conversations during the interaction between five physiotherapists and 10 patients with chronic pain were made, starting with the first consultation. The audio recordings and observation notes were transcribed verbatim and analysed by creating simple and focused codes, using constant comparison and writing memos, forming categories and sub-categories. Throughout this analytical process, the explaining theoretical framework was created. The study was approved by Rīga Stradiņš University Ethics committee (NR. 26/28.06.2018.). During the data analysis a number of processes emerged that occurred in different sequences during interactions. Two basic processes, the Introduction of Clarity and the Search for Words, came to the forefront. The Introduction of Clarity describes the communication processes that are based on uncertainty. The Search for Words describes processes related to looking for best words to match the experience. One can not reach clarity until the correct words have been found. These two processes interact with each other and share common features that manifest through smaller communication actions, e.g. the agreement about roles and nature of cooperation, the way patients express their uncertainties, the way physiotherapists explain theoretical rationale behind their actions, give instructions and commands. There are communication differences that physiotherapists should be aware of to minimize potential risk of miscommunication: interaction, that is itself permeated by uncertainties and search of words, is largely dominated by physiotherapists, using closed-ended questions to focus on hypotheses about patient's problem (embodying their professional identity), whereas patients engage in different way by bringing forward their own experience (all that has happened and has been felt), that way explaining and justifying their condition.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2021
EventRSU Research week 2021: Knowledge for Use in Practice - Rīga, Latvia
Duration: 24 Mar 202126 Mar 2021


ConferenceRSU Research week 2021: Knowledge for Use in Practice
Abbreviated titleRW2021
Internet address

Field of Science*

  • 5.1 Psychology

Publication Type*

  • 3.4. Other publications in conference proceedings (including local)


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