Everyone’s entitled to his or her beliefs, so they say. But what happens when those beliefs get in the way of getting better?
This month’s issue of PT in Motion magazine takes on the subject of how physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) can help their patients and clients overcome misbeliefs that can interfere with achieving optimal outcomes. The feature-length article includes plenty of real-life examples of patients attached to ideas that were barriers to their understanding of their condition and how physical therapy can help—everything from believing that exercising makes multiple sclerosis worse, to a theory that wearing wet jeans causes arthritis.
Keeping in mind that patient values and beliefs are a factor in evidence-based practice, how should a PT or PTA handle off-target patient beliefs? According to the article, there simply isn’t a single best way—it’s all about nuance, about understanding the kind and source of the misinformation the patient holds, and about approaching the issue with genuine sensitivity to the patient’s belief system, culture, personality, and learning style.