Background: Patient adherence to home exercise programs (HEPs) is low, and poor patient self-efficacy is a barrier clinicians can influence. However, little evidence suggests that clinicians assess level of patient self-efficacy before prescribing HEPs.

Purpose: To determine the importance of patient self-efficacy to physical therapists (PTs) when addressing patient barriers, determine how PTs assess and use patient self-efficacy for HEPs, and describe the barriers facing PTs when assessing patient self-efficacy for HEPs.

Study Design: Survey.

Methods: Practicing PTs were recruited from the American Physical Therapy Association's Orthopedic Section and emailed the electronic survey.

Results: Email invitations were sent to 17730 potential participants, and 462 PTs completed the survey over one month. PTs rated self-efficacy as "very" to "extremely" important for patient adherence (58%, 265/454). Most (71%, 328/462) reported assessing self-efficacy before prescribing HEPs and did so through verbal discussion and observation of the patient (50% and 38% respectively). Half of respondents individualized HEPs through self-efficacy related themes. PTs not assessing self-efficacy reported not knowing how (51%, 68/134), being unsure what to do with the information (24%, 32/134), or reporting other barriers (21%, 28/134).

Conclusions: Most PTs indicated that self-efficacy was important for patient adherence, but assessment strategies reported, such as verbal discussion and observation, may not be the most accurate. PTs who did not assess self-efficacy reported not knowing how or what to do with the information once collected. These findings suggest that there is a gap in knowledge related to how to evaluate self-efficacy for HEPs. Better assessment of self-efficacy may lead to more appropriate and effective implementation strategies.

Level of Evidence: Level II.

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Notes/Citation Information

Published in International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, v. 16, issue 1.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CCBY-NC-ND-4.0). View this license’s legal deed at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 and legal code at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/legalcode for more information.

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Table 1: Participant characteristics (n = 462)

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Table 2: Friedman test results of what physical therapists observe to be barriers to patient exercise adherence

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Table 3: Friedman test results of what physical therapists believe the most negatively influential to patient exercise adherence

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Table 4: Themes extracted on how physical therapists individualize home exercise programs based on self-efficacy assessment

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Figure 1: Physical therapists perceived importance of self-efficacy

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Figure 2: Methods of self-efficacy assessment used by physical therapists

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Figure 3: Physical therapist’s barriers to self-efficacy assessment