Biomedical Beliefs Explain the Clinical Decisions Made by Exercise-Based Practitioners for People With Chronic Low Back Pain

Mitchell T. Gibbs, Natalie M.V. Morrison, Paul W.M. Marshall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey. OBJECTIVE: This study surveyed the attitudes and beliefs of physiotherapists and accredited exercise physiologists (AEP) toward chronic low back pain (CLBP), in Australia. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of biomedical and biopsychosocial attitudes and beliefs toward CLBP on clinical decision making in exercise-based practitioners. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: The attitudes and beliefs of AEPs toward CLBP have not been studied. Literature regarding physiotherapists suggests a biomedical approach leading to more conservative treatment and on occasion, treatment going against practice guidelines. METHODS: Seventy five AEPs and 75 physiotherapists were surveyed using the pain attitudes and beliefs scale for physiotherapists, which consists of both a biomedical and biopsychosocial subscale. Clinical decision making was assessed using two patient vignettes. RESULTS: AEPs held higher biomedical beliefs compared with physiotherapists. No between-group differences were observed on the biopsychosocial subscale. Indeed, biomedical attitudes and beliefs did explain clinical decision making with higher scores reflecting a more conservative approach. However, biomedical beliefs influenced decision making regardless of profession. CONCLUSION: Biomedical attitudes and beliefs regarding CLBP influence clinical decision making in exercise-based practitioners, regardless of profession. AEPs reported higher biomedical scores, suggesting more frequent choice of conservative care. Thus, patients may receive inconsistent care and advice from practitioners within the same field. Based on clinical practice guidelines and the positive associations on clinical decision making of the biopsychosocial model, it is necessary to understand how best to provide exercise-based practitioners with education on how to apply a biopsychosocial approach to CLBP.Level of Evidence: 3.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-121
Number of pages8
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


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