Recommended approaches to assessing and managing physiotherapy clients experiencing psychological distress: A systematic mapping review

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Abstract

Background
Some physiotherapists find assessing and managing clients experiencing psychological distress challenging and are uncertain regarding the boundaries of the profession’s scope.

Objective
To map the approaches recommended for physiotherapists in scholarly literature, with respect the assessment and management of clients experiencing psychological distress.

Methods
A systematic mapping review was conducted. CINAHL, APA PsycINFO, Embase, and Medline ALL databases were systematically searched for secondary and tertiary literature relevant to the research objective. Recommended approaches were extracted from each article and analyzed descriptively and thematically.

Results
3884 records were identified with 40 articles meeting the inclusion/exclusion criteria. Most recommendations related to identifying, assessing, and managing pain-related distress, with depression screening and referral also receiving some attention. Three approaches to detecting and assessing psychological distress were identified: 1) brief depression screen; 2) integrated suicide/nonsuicidal self-harm and depression screen; and 3) multidimensional screen and health-related distress assessment. Regarding the management of psychological distress the main approaches identified were: 1) education and reassurance; 2) cognitive-behavioral approaches; 3) mindfulness; and 4) case management.

Conclusion
While assessment and management of health-related distress by physiotherapists is commonly recommended, further guidance is needed to differentiate various forms of distress.

KEYWORDS: Physiotherapy, psychological distress, depression, mental health, suicide
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages31
JournalPhysiotherapy Theory and Practice
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2023

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