5 Ways To Improve Health Promotion As Physiotherapists.

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Health promotion is a tricky area which sometimes we are hesitant to dive into. Make every patient contact count. We know that stroke, cardiac problems, depression, alcoholism and obesity cost the NHS millions every year. So why when we recognise potential risk factors as we not educating, motivating and minimising barriers for people? Isn’t that our job? 

If you could educate and minimise the risk of general health issues for 5 patients per year you could help not only them but reduce cost to the NHS.

55,000+ physios registered with the CSP x 5 patient = 275,000 patients per year!

Health promotion

Health promotion

  • 275,000 educated patients who tell their friends at coffee morning that they are starting aqua aerobics, pilates, the gym and would anyone else like to try?
  • Runners who tell their friends not to run through posterior heel pain and to get it checked by a physio because if  a tendinopathy is in ‘disrepair stage’ it will take longer to recover if the problem is ignored.
  • Make every contact count. We all need to work hard to promote our profession and health to remain muscle and movement specialists aiding people back to optimal function.

photo credit: Edson Hong via photopin cc

Here are some simple observations of ways to promote health.

  1. Educate. This is the easiest way to implement knowledge. Following a detailed assessment you should have highlighted your problem list and then treatments to address these. During manual therapy or acupuncture this is a great time to find out more about the patients perception of their problem and help promote health at the same time (always linking back to your patient and its relevance to them.
  • Did you know that long term smoking and alcohol can increase your sensitivity to pain? (Girdler et al, 2005)
  • Did you know that depression causes a physical change via a hormone called cortisol which effects how pain is perceived in the brain?
  • Did you know that regular exercises can help regulate serotonin and cortisol there is some evidence that shows it has a positive effect on depression? (Stanton and Reaburn, 2013)
  • (In cases of knee OA): Have you ever considered getting in a pool 3 times a week: it would not only be beneficial for your mobility but exercising for 20mins x 3 weekly can dramatically reduce the risk of (enter patient history ie stroke/diabetes/ family history of heart failure)… too.
  • Did you know that chronic pain (pain felt for more than 6 months) causes changes within the brain?
  • Did you know to can get supplemented gym memberships through your GP.

2. In service training: Provide an inservice training to thought shower how health is currently promoted. Are there easily assessable information sheets in every waiting room about NHS choices, how to complete your BMI online, government initiatives to help lose weight, dietry help online or from weight watchers/slimming world?  One exercise you could try would be to give each physio a small sheet with a list of all health initiatives and scan to see if any would be suitable for each patient selected on their background/assessment.


                 Health promotion/ Education Pt A B C D
Balance classes
Personal trainer? x
Government schemes
Weight loss advice x
Weight watchers/slimming world
BMI calculator (NHS choices) x
Onward referral counselor?
Onward referral nutrition ?
NHS Dietary advice x
Couch to 5k x


Here are some examples of things you could implement into practice.

3. Promotion through social media. Not sure what you should be tweeting about? NHS choices makes it easy! Just pick a new page every day. This presents a good image of your company and will improve people’s interaction with your site and NHS choices. Of course this doesn’t reach everyone but it’s a powerful tool in reaching people, particularly the generations coming through. I strongly feel that all NHS departments, GP practices and private practices should have a twitter/facebook account to improve public appearance and understanding of procedures, to highlight ill attendance and provide health/physio promotion.  This health promotion could be as simple as congratulating a local team on their win or highlighting a sponsored walk achievement inspiring others to get involved. If this is an area you feel uncomfortable with then speak to someone who does because it may take an hour a week but promotes physio and our value which is extremely important when defending against cuts.


4. Integration. There is so much research showing that for people to learn and retain information they must buy into the piece of information, understand what it means and choose to act on it.  The more people promoting will inevitably have a positive effect on retention of information. It is important not to forget the MDT! Why not refer to a personal trainer/strength and conditioning coach for weight loss/fitness advice?

5. Easily accessible information in waiting rooms. This is a no brainer if people have time and are bored they will read. Make sure leaflets are easily accessible.


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