Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Physical Therapy (M.S.)

Degree Program

Physical Therapy


This qualitative explored some of the concepts under which physical therapists in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area operate when treating patients with fibromyalgia syndrome. Four physical therapists with at least two years’ experience working in local pain clinics were interviewed. The data were transcribed, coded, and analyzed into themes. Seven categories of physical therapists’ perceptions concerning the determination of interventions were developed: (a) Factors affecting decision-making, (b) physical therapeutic interventions, (c) decision-making in the absence of intervention guidelines, (d) judgments of effectiveness according to clinical findings, (e) judgments of effectiveness through consultation, (f) perceptions of intervention decisions, and (g) perceptions of provision of care. Two factors affected physical therapists’ decision-making and perceptions of their decision-making effectiveness: (a) Beliefs about fibromyalgia syndrome and (b) professional and personal experience. Physical therapists’ believed fibromyalgia syndrome to be a poorly diagnosed, complex disease involving psychological factors, physical factors, and specific patient personality traits.


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