Document Type


Publication Title

Physical Therapy


American Physical Therapy Association

Publication Date



The purposes of this study were 1) to identify therapists' and physicians' attitudes and opinions about the physician-physical therapist communication dyad, 2) to identify potential areas for improvement in this communication process, and 3) to provide physical therapists and physical therapy students with basic guidelines for optimal communications. Ten physical therapists and 8 physicians participated in individual interviews that were taped and subsequently transcribed. The transcriptions were compiled and analyzed by an interpersonal communication expert (B.W.B.) for trends and themes. Findings of the study include 1) physical therapists want increased accessibility to and communication with physicians and 2) physicians want brief communication with clear objective data provided by the therapists. Basic guidelines developed for physical therapy students as a result of this study include 1) identify physicians with whom you can communicate most easily, 2) learn your physicians' schedules, 3) organize beforehand so that communication is clear and concise, 4) be polite but self-assured, 5) ask your supervisor or other staff therapists for advice, and 6) use the telephone discriminately. This study emphasizes that communication with physicians must be approached on an individual basis. Each physician differs in personality, philosophy of patient care, and expectations of physical therapy. Therapists should take the initiative in developing good rapport and maintaining a viable relationship with physicians.



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