Navigating patient distress in physiotherapy practice

R McGrath (Presenter), S Shephard (Presenter), T Parnell, S Verdon, Rod Pope

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


How-To Session

Background: It is well documented that physiotherapists from all areas of practice lack the confidence and self-reported competence to assess and manage clients experiencing psychological or suicidal distress. The presenter's PhD research shows that physiotherapists supporting people with persistent pain often encounter both pain- and non-pain-related psychological distress

Aims/objectives: To present a framework based on 'risk communication' and 'coping planning' approaches that will facilitate participants’ assessment and management of people experiencing psychological and suicidal distress. While applicable to all areas of practice, this framework will be contextualised to persistent
pain settings.

Approach: Drawing on anonymised case studies from the presenter's PhD research, the presenter will provide worked examples of how 'risk communication' and 'coping planning' approaches can be implemented in the context of physiotherapy. To orientate participants to these approaches, a brief overview of different perspectives on psychological and suicidal distress will be included. Worked examples will explore (i) how psychological questionnaires may be integrated into the ‘busy’ clinical setting, (ii)
assessment and management outside the context of multidisciplinary teams such as private practice, and (iii) strategies to support people experiencing psychological or suicidal distress beyond referral to other professionals/services.

Key Practice Points:
Participants will learn:
• Different perspectives on psychological distress, such as those offered by the Power Threat Meaning
Framework and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
• The principles of ‘risk communication’ and ‘coping planning' approaches.
• How these approaches can be implemented in the context of physiotherapy practice
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2023
EventIGNITE Physiotherapy Conference 2023: Australian Physiotherapy Association - Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Brisbane, Australia
Duration: 04 Oct 202307 Oct 2023 (Conference website) (Abstract book)


ConferenceIGNITE Physiotherapy Conference 2023
Internet address


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