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We want to understand how clinicians do physical examinations in video consultations for physiotherapy, and develop guidance on remote physical assessment that can help patients and clinician use video consultations in the wider NHS.

Why this is important:

Video consultations using Teams, Zoom and similar technologies have been rapidly introduced across the NHS during the COVID-19 pandemic. Video now plays a potential crucial role in physiotherapy: for a good consultation, physiotherapists need to be able to see how patients move. But currently there is limited guidance that helps clinicians and patients use video consultations.

In previous research, we developed a range of resources to help patients and clinicians with video consultations. The NHS has enthusiastically taken up these resources. To support spread of video consulting in physiotherapy services (and more widely in the NHS), we plan to adapt and update these resources in ways that can support use of physical examinations in video consultations.


We use conversation analysis to examine how physiotherapists conduct physical assessments via video. We will video-record up to 20 video consultations in three physiotherapy services: orthopaedics, pain management, and neuromuscular rehabilitation. We will transcribe these recordings and then analyse not only what patients and clinicians say, but also how they say it and how they use their body and technology. We will interview patients and clinicians about their experiences with the technology.

We will work with patient groups to refine our analysis, and make sure that we address their needs in the research. We will work with Design Science to co-design (with patients) and develop illustrated guidance.

If published, findings and How this could benefit patients:

We will make the guidance available on our website and via social media. Will work with national stakeholders (e.g. NHS England, Chartered Society of Physiotherapists) to make guidance as widely available as possible and support those designing, delivering and receiving remote physiotherapy services.

Next steps:

We are currently setting up the study at local NHS Sites. We will soon start recruiting patients and clinicians to take part in the study. This will be done in collaboration with NHS Trusts – University College London Hospitals and Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. We hope that data collection will start in June 2021, with co-design workshops, for which we will be recruiting members of the public, to take place late 2021, early 2022.


Department research team: