‘He explains it in a way that I have confidence he knows what he is doing’: A qualitative study of patients' experiences and perspectives of rotator-cuff-related shoulder pain education

Kate Cridland, Shane Pritchard, Sangeeta Rathi, Peter Malliaras

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Patient education is recommended in clinical practice guidelines for rotator-cuff-related shoulder pain (RCRSP), yet there are no guidelines for clinicians. A gap in the current literature relates to patients' perspectives. Aims: The aim of this study was to explore the experiences and perspectives of people with RCRSP about education for their condition. Materials and methods: An inductive qualitative design was adopted. Eight participants with RCRSP participated in individual telephone interviews that were audio-recorded, transcribed and de-identified. Four researchers completed inductive thematic analysis. Institutional ethics approval was obtained. Results: Results are detailed as a thematic analysis from the interview responses. Three primary themes were identified: (1) a therapeutic alliance leads to trust of education; (2) education of RCRSP should be individualized and practical; and (3) delivery of educational interventions should be varied and multi-modal. Discussion: The results demonstrated that trust in the health professional providing the education facilitates adherence and increases belief that the condition is being effectively treated. Participants believed imaging were necessary for an individual diagnosis despite clinical practice guidelines not recommending imaging for the first 6–12 weeks of initial presentation. There was a general caution about generic online information which may adversely impact the value of exclusively online educational intervention in the future. Participants preferred clear and practical education about RCRSP, including activity modification, timeframes for recovery and potential detriments to their recovery. There was consensus that education is best delivered early in the rehabilitation process, however there were mixed preferences for delivery method between written, video and face-to-face which perhaps reflects different learning styles and indicates that a ‘one size fits all’ approach is not effective in adult education in this condition. Conclusion: People with RCRSP believe education about their condition is important and is best delivered by a trusted source early in their rehabilitation. There is a belief that scans are necessary to provide an individualized diagnosis and assists in their understanding of the condition. There is an opportunity for online education; however, this may best be utilised as an adjunct method to face-to-face care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-231
Number of pages15
JournalMusculoskeletal Care
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • education
  • qualitative
  • rotator-cuff-related shoulder pain
  • shoulder pain

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