It has long been acknowledged that nonspecific chronic low back pain (NSCLBP) is associated with a complex combination of biopsychosocial (BPS) factors, and recent guidelines advocate that the management of back pain should reflect this multidimensional complexity. Cognitive functional therapy (CFT) is a behaviourally oriented intervention that targets patients' individual BPS profiles. Although the efficacy of CFT has been demonstrated in primary care, little evidence exists about the training requirements of this approach.
Qualitative semistructured interviews were conducted with 10 physiotherapists working in primary care, who had undergone a formal training programme in CFT. A purposive sampling method was employed to seek the broadest perspectives. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the interview transcripts and capture the emergent themes.
Five main themes emerged: (i) the learning challenge; (ii) self-reported changes in confidence; (iii) self-reported changes in communication practice; (iv) self-reported changes in attitudes and understanding; (v) the physiotherapists felt that CFT was more effective than their usual approach for NSCLBP but identified barriers to successful implementation, which included a lack of time and difficulties in engaging patients with strong biomedical beliefs.
The study suggested that training in CFT has the capacity to produce self-reported changes in physiotherapists' attitudes, confidence and practice. The provision of such training has implications in terms of time and costs; however, this this may be warranted, given the physiotherapists' strong allegiance to the approach compared with their usual practice.