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Quality improvement in physiotherapy services

George Boak (YSJ Business School, York Saint John University, York, UK)
Ruth Sephton (Physiotherapy Department, 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Warrington, UK)
Elaine Hough (Physiotherapy Department, 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Warrington, UK)
Ruth ten Hove (Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, London, UK)

International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance

ISSN: 0952-6862

Article publication date: 12 June 2017




The purpose of this paper is to evaluate a process change in physiotherapy services and to explore factors that may have influenced the outcomes.


This is a multiple case study and information was gathered from eight physiotherapy teams over 24 months.


The process change was successfully implemented in six teams. It had a clear, positive effect on service quality provided to patients in three teams. Whilst quality also improved in three other teams, other issues make changes difficult to assess. Factors that enabled process change to be effective are suggested.

Research limitations/implications

The findings are based on results achieved by only eight English teams.

Practical implications

This process change may be appropriate for other teams providing therapy services if attention is paid to potential enabling factors, and a learning approach is adopted to designing and introducing the change.


To the best of the authors’ knowledge, no other longitudinal process change study in therapy services has been published.



Boak, G., Sephton, R., Hough, E. and ten Hove, R. (2017), "Quality improvement in physiotherapy services", International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 30 No. 5, pp. 424-435.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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