One of the MOST IMPORTANT questions to ask your patients

Nov 28, 2017

MAT strategies to out-perform your patient’s expectations!

The clinical interview is one of the most important processes to get right with your patients.

Doing this well will open the door for you to build rapport with your patient and also is the moment to make an important first impression to provide them with confidence that you are the person to help them.

It has been commonly found that the interpersonal aspects of physiotherapy and healthcare are some of the most important determinants of patient outcomes and their evaluation of whether they are receiving quality health care. (Hush, 2011)

Set yourself up for success in the clinic and consider these strategies with your patients in your next clinical history taking.

What is the number one question you need to start asking right now?

It is of course, what are your short-term and long-term goals and why are these important to you now?

These questions are important to have a collaborative discussion with your clients. By understanding these goals and forming realistic expectations with your clients allows the client to work with you as part of a team to achieve an outstanding result.

  • A patient-centered approach has been shown to be beneficial for treatment outcomes and satisfaction. (O’Keefe, 2016)
  • One study examined the effects of utilizing active patient involvement in the establishment of physiotherapy goals in rehab with patients with rheumatoid arthritis. An active involvement in goal setting of patients has demonstrated:
    • Higher success and achievement of range of motion, strength, and balance.
    • Higher ratings of physiotherapy care. (Arnetz, 2004)

At MAT, you know we love objective measures. We love the idea of using outcome measures such as the Patient Specific Functional Scale to identify the key activities and tasks that are important to your patients and have them rate how they feel their current ability to perform these are.

We also often use objective testing with physical tests of flexibility, balance strength etc to help set clear physical goals to be achieved over a patient or client's management plan. This often makes the process very clear as to what results much be reached before a client can return to activity, sport, work etc. These fall nicely into the Functional Performance Testing spectrum outlined by Reiman and Manske (2009).

What do you need to bring to the table for GOAL SETTING?

During your preliminary case-history and examination, it's important you gather as many objective measures as you can so that you can set baselines and track the progression of the key factors that your patient requires to achieve their individual needs, wants, and goals over time. 

Ensure that the objective measures you are choosing are relevant to the patient goals, pick tests that will assess whether they have adequate flexibility, balance, strength or power to do the movements and activities that they want to do. If you need help with this our MAT courses teach the exact process we use to systematically guide our own clients to achieve their goals.

The reason thousands of therapists and trainers around the world are using The MAT (Movement Assessment Tool) currently is because it is the easiest tool to put a number on how your patients move. This allows you to establish areas for improvement based on the latest research and track progress towards meaningful goals. Having clear objective data and goals can increase patient motivation and adherence to their management plan.

At MAT we are all about performing reliable, objective measurement so that you can help clearly communicate how the interventions that you are going to provide will help your patients to achieve their goals.  



Arnetz JE, Almin I, Bergstrom K, Franzén Y,Nilssin H. Active patient involvement in the establishment of physical therapy goals: effects on treatment outcome and quality of care. Adv Physiother 2004; 6: 50–69.

Julia M. Hush, Kirsten Cameron, Martin Mackey; Patient Satisfaction With Musculoskeletal Physical Therapy Care: A Systematic Review, Physical Therapy, Volume 91, Issue 1, 1 January 2011, Pages 25–36,

Mary O'Keeffe, Paul Cullinane, John Hurley, Irene Leahy, Samantha Bunzli, Peter B. O'Sullivan, Kieran O'Sullivan; What Influences Patient-Therapist Interactions in Musculoskeletal Physical Therapy? Qualitative Systematic Review and Meta-Synthesis, Physical Therapy, Volume 96, Issue 5, 1 May 2016, Pages 609–622,

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