Exploring what patients with musculoskeletal conditions want from first point-of-contact health practitioners

Jo Erwin, Kenneth Chance-Larsen, Michael Backhouse, Anthony D Woolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This research was conducted to support the development of the Musculoskeletal (MSK) Health Capabilities Framework to ensure the framework reflected patients’ priorities. It explored what questions patients want answered when they first seek help for their MSK condition and the values and behaviours they expect and value from a first contact health practitioner.

Focus groups were held in four locations across England. Sixteen participants with a self-declared MSK condition aged 19 to 75 took part (11 female, five male). Participants discussed the questions they want answered when first going to see a health professional about a MSK problem and how they would describe a good first contact health provider.

Participants wanted answers to questions about: the nature of the problem, the management of the problem, where to get information and support to help themselves, what activities they can do and what the future holds. Values and behaviours they expect and value from first contact practitioners include: good communication skills, appreciation of impact, a willingness to discuss alternative and complementary therapies, shared decision making and an awareness of own limitations and when to refer.

The MSK core capabilities framework for first contact practitioners aims to ensure a person-centred approach in the first stages of managing any MSK problem a person may present with. The focus groups enabled the developers of the framework to achieve a greater understanding of patient priorities, expectations and needs and allowed the patient perspective to be included in this national framework.

Musculoskeletal, first contact practitioners, national framework, patients, qualitative.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
JournalRheumatology Advances in Practice
Issue number1
Early online date7 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Society for Rheumatology.


  • first-contact health practitioners
  • national framework
  • patients qualitative

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