Healthcare professionals’ perceptions and experiences of physiotherapy for people with mental illness: a protocol for a systematic review and meta-ethnography

Laura Hemmings, Nicola R Heneghan, Erin Byrd, Brendon Stubbs, Andrew Soundy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Introduction: There is a high global prevalence of patients presenting with physical and mental health comorbidities. Physiotherapeutic interventions, such as exercise, can have positive benefits for physical and mental health. However, poor accessibility and negative experiences of healthcare services for those with mental illness (MI) have been consistently observed within literature with recent research identifying poor experiences of physiotherapeutic interactions and processes such as referrals and discharges. One way to help improve physiotherapy services for this population is to understand the personal experiences and perceptions of healthcare professionals (HCPs) toward physiotherapy for patients with MI. Qualitative-based evidence syntheses are suited to bring this data together with the aim of improving physiotherapy services for patients with MI. This review will systematically search and synthesise existing evidence around HCP experiences and perceptions of physiotherapy for people with MI. Methods and analysis: A systematic search and seven-phase meta-ethnography will be undertaken. A comprehensive search of electronic databases (CINAHL plus, MEDLINE, Pubmed, Embase and Psycinfo) and search engines as well as grey literature (unpublished primary research such as theses) will be completed. Searches are planned to take place in July 2022. Eligibility criteria include: (a) qualitative data, (b) perceptions identified from HCP, including physiotherapists, assistants and HCP referring into physiotherapy, about physiotherapy for patients with MI and (c) are primary studies. Ethics and dissemination: This work is exempt from requiring ethical approval due to review methodology with data accessed from published works. This systematic review is expected to provide insight into experiences and perceptions of HCP around benefits and barriers to accessing physiotherapy for patients with mental health illness. Findings will be used to inform further research and co-develop recommendations to overcome barriers and optimise facilitators to care for this population. Findings will be disseminated via peer-reviewed journal, conference presentations and to key stakeholder groups. PROSPERO registration number: CRD42021293035.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere061227
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number8
Early online date24 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished online - 24 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2022. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.


  • Mental health
  • 1506
  • 1712
  • mental health
  • musculoskeletal disorders
  • pain management
  • psychiatry
  • rehabilitation medicine


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