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OBJECTIVES: To investigate the challenges of doing physical examinations and exercises by video, and the communication strategies used by physiotherapists and patients to overcome them. DESIGN: A qualitative study of talk and social actions, examining the verbal and non-verbal communication practices used by patients and physiotherapists. Video consultations between physiotherapists and patients were video recorded using MS Teams, transcribed and analysed in detail using Conversation Analysis. SETTING: Video consultations were recorded in three specialist settings (long-term pain, orthopaedics, and neuromuscular rehabilitation) across two NHS hospitals. PARTICIPANTS: 15 adult patients (10 female, 5 male; aged 20-77) with a scheduled video consultation. RESULTS: Examinations and exercises retain-->were successfully accomplished in all 15 consultations. Two key challenges were identified for physiotherapists and patients when doing video assessments: (1) managing safety and clinical risk, and (2) making exercises and movements visible. Challenges were addressed by through communication practices that were patient-centred and tailored to the video context (e.g., explaining how to frame the body to the camera or adjust the camera to make the body visible). CONCLUSIONS: Video is being used by physiotherapists to consult with their patients. This can work well, but tailored communication strategies are critical to help participants overcome the challenges of remote physical examinations and exercises. CONTRIBUTION OF THE PAPER: This paper is a first to use video-based analysis to determine the challenges of video consulting for doing remote assessments and exercises in physiotherapy settings. It demonstrates how patients and physiotherapists use communication strategies to raise concerns around safety and visibility and how they overcome these concerns.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





30 - 37


Conversation analysis, Exercises, Physical assessments, Qualitative research, Video consultations, Virtual assessments