BACKGROUND: Observation of movement quality (MQ) is an indelible element in the process of clinical reasoning for patients with non-specific low back pain (NS-LBP). However, the observation and evaluation of MQ in common daily activities are not standardized within allied health care. This study aims to describe how Dutch allied health care professionals (AHCPs) observe and assess MQ in patients with NS-LBP and whether AHCPs feel the need to have a specific outcome measure for assessing MQ in patients with NS-LBP.
METHODS: In this cross-sectional digital survey study, Dutch primary care AHCPs (n = 114) answered one open and three closed questions about MQ in NS-LBP management. Qualitative and quantitative analyses were applied.
RESULTS: Qualitative analyses of the answers to the open questions revealed four main themes: 1) movement pattern features, 2) motor control features, 3) environmental influences and 4) non-verbal expressions of pain and exertion. Quantitative analyses clearly indicated that AHCPs observe MQ in the diagnostic (92%), therapeutic (91%) and evaluation phases (86%), that they do not apply any objective measurement of MQ and that 63% of the AHCPs consider it important to have a specific outcome measure to assess MQ. The AHCPs expressed added benefits and critical notes regarding clinical reasoning and quality of care.
CONCLUSION: AHCPs recognize the importance of observing MQ in the assessment and management of LBP in a standardized way. However, there is no consensus amongst AHCPs how MQ should be standardized. Prior to standardization, it will be important to develop a theoretical framework to determine which observable and measurable dimensions of MQ are most valid and relevant for patients with NS-LBP to include in the assessment.