• interprofessional care;
  • multiprofessional care;
  • musculoskeletal;
  • quality of care;
  • rehabilitation;
  • primary care

Scand J Caring Sci; 2012; 26; 28–37

Lateral epicondylalgia. A quantitative and qualitative analysis of interdisciplinary cooperation and treatment choice in the Swedish health care system

Objective and aim:  Interdisciplinary cooperation is essential to develop a broad range of knowledge and skills. The aim of this study was to describe health care professionals’ treatment choices, their cooperation with other professionals and their perceptions of potential risks regarding treatments of acute lateral epicondylalgia (LE).

Design:  A quantitative descriptive study design with a summative approach to qualitative analysis.

Ethical issues:  The ethical committee was asked verbally for approval but, as this study was performed to develop an organised way to treat LE, it did not require approval. The four ethical aspects information, consent, confidentiality and the use of the study materials were all addressed.

Subjects:  All orthopaedic surgeons, general practitioners, physiotherapists and occupational therapists in a county.

Methods:  Questionnaire with 18 dichotomous, multiple-response, multiple-choice questions and three open-ended questions were analysed using quantitative cross-tab and qualitative content analysis with summative approach.

Results:  The most common treatment choices were Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID), corticosteroid injections, training programmes, braces and ergonomics. Advantages from interdisciplinary cooperation were higher rated than disadvantages. The qualitative findings dealt with perceptions of interdisciplinary cooperation and resulted in three categories; right level of care, increased quality of care and decreased quality of care. Almost half of the physicians felt potential risks associated with their treatment methods. The qualitative findings dealt with perceptions of the potential risks and resulted in two categories: side effects and inadequate treatment.

Study limitations:  The number of responses varied because some of the respondents did not answered all of the questions.

Conclusion:  Interdisciplinary cooperation in the treatment of patients with acute LE benefits the patients by shortening the rehabilitation period and provides health care professionals the opportunity for an improved learning and exchanging experiences. These basic conditions must be met to improve health care quality.