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Physiotherapy managers’ views of musculoskeletal physiotherapy service provision in Ireland: a qualitative study

  • Helen P. French (a1) and Rose Galvin (a2)



Integrated multidisciplinary primary healthcare is still in a relatively early stage of development in Ireland, with significant restructuring occurring in the past decade. Musculoskeletal physiotherapy services traditionally provided in acute hospital settings have been relocated into the primary care setting where the physiotherapist works as part of the multidisciplinary team. This study aimed to explore physiotherapy managers’ experiences of managing musculoskeletal physiotherapy services in primary care to gain an insight into the opportunities and challenges in service delivery, changing roles and ongoing professional development needs of staff.


Qualitative design using semi-structured interviews with primary care physiotherapy managers in the Republic of Ireland was employed.


Five interviews took in a mix of rural and urban areas nationally. The relationship with the GP was an important one in musculoskeletal physiotherapy services in primary care. Physiotherapists were well skilled but opportunities for professional and career development were restricted. Methods of optimising resources in the face of staffing restrictions were identified. Whilst there were many examples of innovations in service delivery, various barriers negatively impacted on optimal service including resource constraints and national strategy.


A number of factors that impact on musculoskeletal service delivery in primary care from the perspective of physiotherapy managers were identified in this study. Future research should explore the views of other stakeholders to provide a more thorough understanding of the relevant issues affecting musculoskeletal physiotherapy service provision in primary care in Ireland.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to: Dr Helen French, Senior Lecturer in Physiotherapy, School of Physiotherapy, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, 123 St. Stephens Green, Dublin 2, Republic of Ireland. Email:


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Physiotherapy managers’ views of musculoskeletal physiotherapy service provision in Ireland: a qualitative study

  • Helen P. French (a1) and Rose Galvin (a2)


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