A Novel Advanced Scope Physiotherapist Clinic for Rheumatology

Wigg AER1, Milanese S2, Ayres A1, Black R1, Proudman S1

1Rheumatology Unit, Royal Adelaide Hospital, CALHN, SA Health, 2International Centre for Allied Health Evidence, University of South Australia


The Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) combined rheumatologist/physiotherapist clinic represents a unique model of care where advanced scope physiotherapists work in collaboration with consultant rheumatologists to provide a single visit, multidisciplinary assessment of patients with musculoskeletal pain. The clinic’s role is to reduce the non-inflammatory patient burden on rheumatologist clinics and to fast-track patients with inflammatory presentations for follow up in specialist rheumatologist clinics.

The aims of this project are to evaluate stakeholder (patients, referring doctors, clinic clinicians) satisfaction and clinical outcomes of the clinic. A combination of pre and post clinic surveys, interviews and patient reported outcome measures will be used.

Data collection is ongoing however preliminary satisfaction analysis for a consecutive sample of 50 patients is available. Seventy six percent of patients were female. The mean age was 50 years. Sixty two percent (29/47) had their condition for more than 2 years.

Patient surveys demonstrated almost all patients were satisfied or very satisfied with; their overall experience with the clinic (95%, 39/41), the overall quality of service provided by the physiotherapist (96%, 44/46) and rheumatologist (98%, 45/46) and how the physiotherapist and rheumatologist worked together (96%, 44/46).

The referring doctor survey response rate was 36% (18/50). The majority of referrers were; satisfied or very satisfied with their overall experience with the clinic (88%, 15/17) and thought a physiotherapist’s input can be very or extremely valuable to a rheumatology initial consultation (81%, 13/16).

Early results indicate the combined clinic and physiotherapist’s involvement are well received by patients and referring doctors.

Alison Wigg

Alison is a senior physiotherapist in the Combined Rheumatologist/Physiotherapist Clinic at the Royal Adelaide Hospital where physiotherapists work in an advanced practice setting, collaborating with rheumatology consultants, to assess and provide management plans for new patients.  She is also an advanced practice physiotherapist in the Spinal Assessment Clinic at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

Alison has a Bachelor and a Master of Applied Science in physiotherapy and a Master of Business Administration. She has previously worked as a private practitioner, a lecturer and clinical educator at the University of South Australia and University of Queensland and a senior physiotherapist and Head of Department at the Royal Darwin Hospital. She has held research and project management roles in orthopaedics and rheumatology at the Repatriation General Hospital and Royal Adelaide Hospital and is a current recipient of a SA Health and UniSA Allied Health Research Collaboration Grant.

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