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Biopsychosocial Model of Care in Physiotherapy

Allied Health Care for the Ballarat Region

Biopsychosocial Model of Care in Physiotherapy

Woman doing yoga at sunset

Have you ever wondered why a physiotherapist or health professional might ask about your work, school, sleep, mood, or hobbies? This is because pain and injuries involve more than just physical factors.

The biopsychosocial model of care is a healthcare approach that considers the biological, psychological, and social aspects influencing a person’s health and well-being. Unlike the biomedical model, which focuses solely on physical or biological causes of a person’s complaint, the biopsychosocial model has gained acceptance in medicine since its inception in the late 1970s.

In physiotherapy, this model promotes a comprehensive understanding of patients and their conditions. Here’s how it is applied:

  1. Biological Factors: Physiotherapists assess the physical aspects of a patient’s condition, such as muscle strength, flexibility, range of motion, and mobility. This involves physical examinations and diagnostic tests. Treatments might include exercise therapy and manual therapy. Biological factors also encompass genetics and pre-existing health conditions.
  2. Psychological Factors: Physiotherapists acknowledge the impact of psychological factors on a patient’s experience of pain and physical function. These factors include stress, anxiety, depression, fear of movement or re-injury, beliefs, expectations, and attitudes towards treatments. Addressing these aspects may involve education, reassurance, counselling, and referrals to psychologists or GPs if needed.
  3. Social Factors: Physiotherapists consider the social context of patients, such as socioeconomic status, living arrangements, cultural background, family support, work environment, hobbies, and access to resources like gyms and public exercise spaces. Interventions may involve removing environmental barriers to participation and prescribing management plans relevant to the patient’s social context.

By adopting the biopsychosocial model, physiotherapists aim to provide comprehensive, patient-centred treatment that goes beyond addressing physical symptoms. They strive to recognize the interconnectedness of biological, psychological, and social factors that contribute to a patient’s health condition and tailor their treatments accordingly. While implementing this model can be challenging for clinicians, it remains a vital approach to holistic healthcare.

Eliza Roughead

Physiotherapist – Lake Health Group

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