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Rotator cuff disorders: a survey of current (2018) Italian physiotherapy practice

Brindisino, F.; Matteuzzi, I.; Bury, J.; McCreesh, K.; Littlewood, C


F. Brindisino

I. Matteuzzi

J. Bury

K. McCreesh

C Littlewood


Shoulder pain is a common musculoskeletal complaint and disorders of the rotator cuff (RC) are widely regarded as the most common cause. Where clinical care is required, physiotherapists play an integral role. Previous studies have reported physiotherapy practice across other countries as a means of determining current practice and understanding whether practice changes over time in response to emerging research evidence.

To investigate the practice of Italian physiotherapists, in order to determine current practice for the assessment and management of RC disorders.

A cross sectional online survey. A 20-item questionnaire based on one clinical vignette was developed using Survey Monkey Software. Data were analyzed descriptively and difference in proportions between those with a specific education compared to those with no specific education (i.e. “Master’s Degree,” “1-2 days Training Course” or “Other) were analysed using the chi-squared test.

A total of 805 participants accessed the survey with a total of 436 completed responses (54%). Fifty-five percent of respondents were male (239/436). Seventy-one percent of respondents (309/436) reported having specific education with regards to RC disorders. The methods of diagnosing RC disorders were variable across the respondents as well as the requests for imaging (184/436, 42%), the adoption of manual therapy techniques (251/436, 58%), the duration of treatment (231/436, 53% visit the patient six times at least) and the administration of physical examination test (175/436, 40%). Advice (279/436, 64%) and some form of exercise therapy (268/436, 62%) are the most popular choices of treatment.

This current study is the first which described Italian physiotherapy practice for RC disorders. Italian physiotherapy practice is in line with other European countries. Italian physiotherapy practice also aligns with current recommendations with regards to minimal use of imaging and prescription of therapeutic exercise. However, there is heterogeneity across the responses particularly with regards to use of manual therapy, physical examination tests, and duration of treatment.Furthermore this study is a platform for future research to explore whether Italian physiotherapy practice changes over time.

Acceptance Date Oct 24, 2019
Online Publication Date Feb 21, 2020
Publication Date Feb 21, 2020
Publicly Available Date May 26, 2023
Journal Physiotherapy Practice and Research
Print ISSN 2213-0683
Electronic ISSN 2213-0691
Publisher IOS Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 41
Issue 1
Pages 11-22
Keywords evidence-based practice, exercise therapy, physical therapy modalities, rotator cuff
Publisher URL


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