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  1. van de Sant, Arjan J. W. PT, MSc


Background and Purpose: This article reports on a recent randomized clinical trial that showed a personalized approach to physical therapy (Coach2Move) by a physical therapist specialized in geriatrics (PTG) to be more cost-effective than usual physical therapy care in people with mobility problems (n = 130, mean age = 78 years).


Methods: We used an explanatory mixed-methods sequential design alongside the randomized clinical trial to gain insight into (a) the contrast between the 2 interventions, (b) the fidelity of the Coach2Move delivery; (c) PTGs' experiences of Coach2Move; and (d) possible barriers and facilitators for future implementation. The study included 13 PTGs educated in the strategy and 13 physical therapists with expertise in geriatrics delivering the usual care. In total, 106 medical records were available for assessment: 57 (85%) Coach2Move, 49 (75%) usual care. Quantitative process indicators were used to analyze electronic medical records to determine contrasts in the phases of clinical reasoning. The fidelity of the delivery was tested using indicator scores focusing on 4 key elements of Coach2Move. In-depth interviews with Coach2Move therapists were thematically analyzed to explore experiences and facilitators/barriers related to implementation.


Results and Discussion: Indicator scores showed significant and clinically relevant contrasts in all phases of clinical reasoning, with consistently higher scores among PTGs, except for the treatment plan. Moreover, the fidelity of Coach2Move delivery was more than 70% in all phases, except the evaluation phase (53%). Experiences of Coach2Move were positive. In particular, extended intake allowing motivational interviewing, physical examination and an in-depth problem analysis, and shared goal setting were considered valuable. Facilitators for implementation were the addition of a Coach2Move medical record, frequent coaching by the researcher, and readiness to change in the therapist. Barriers were (1) having to use 2 parallel electronic medical record systems, (2) having to clear the calendar to schedule an intake of 90 minutes, (3) fear of losing income, (4) the sense that patients do not want to change their lifestyle, and (5) not acknowledging that increasing physical activity is an important goal for older adults with mobility problems.


Conclusions: Physical therapy based on the Coach2Move strategy is substantially different from usual care. Future implementation should focus on increasing regular evaluation and feedback, taking into account individuals' contextual factors, and improving organizational facilities while mitigating income loss.