Initial health status of patients at outpatient physical therapy clinics

K. A. Mossberg, C. McFarland, D. U. Jette

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Scopus citations


    Background and Purpose. The purpose of this study was the characterize the health status of individuals upon initiation of treatment in outpatient physical therapy clinics. Subjects. Six outpatient clinical sites participated in the study. Three clinics were hospital based, and three clinics were privately owned by physical therapists. Patients who were referred with muscular, skeletal, or peripheral nerve involvement and who were not postoperative were included in the study. Methods. One hundred nine patients completed the SF-36 health status questionnaire, which assessed eight health concepts: physical function, role physical (ie, limitations in role functioning such as duties in the home or at work due to physical problems), bodily pain, vitality, social function, role emotional (ie, limitations in role functioning due to emotional problems), mental health, and general health. Results. Patients referred for treatment to hospital- based or privately owned clinics had similar ages and diagnoses. No differences in health status were found between patients to be treated at hospital-based clinics and those to be treated at privately owned clinics, or between male and female patients. Only physical functioning scores were lower in patients with lower-quarter (lumbar or lower-extremity) disorders versus patients with upper-quarter (cervical or upper-extremity) disorders. All health concept scores, except general health, were found to differ from previously published normative data on the US population. Conclusion and Discussion. A subgroup of patients seeking outpatient physical therapy had lower health concept scores than did the general population in not only the physical domain of health but also the psychological and social domains. These data reinforce the concept that physical impairment interacts with the emotional and social aspects of health. In addition, the health concept scores of our sample as compared with other patient groups who have responded to the SF-36 revealed some similarities and some marked differences. The results suggest that these types of data will provide practicing clinicians, as well as third-party payers and policymakers, with a greater understanding of the severity of the patient's condition. Because the SF-36 provides information on health not routinely assessed by physical therapists, it may be a useful screening tool.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1043-1054
    Number of pages12
    JournalPhysical therapy
    Issue number12
    StatePublished - 1995


    • Hospital practice
    • Outcome
    • Private practice
    • SF-36
    • Survey

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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