Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 33, Issue 6, pp 801–803 | Cite as

Primary Care Physician Referral to Physical Therapy for Musculoskeletal Conditions, 2003–2014

  • Janet K. Freburger
  • Samannaaz Khoja
  • Timothy S. Carey
Concise Research Reports


Musculoskeletal conditions are a significant burden in the USA affecting more than one-half of adults and three-quarters of those 65 years and older, making these conditions more common than hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.1 Primary care physicians (PCPs) are typically the first point of contact for individuals seeking care for musculoskeletal conditions.2 With the development of new healthcare delivery and payment models and the increasing medical complexity of the primary care patient, PCPs are facing greater pressure to deliver coordinated, integrated, team-based care to achieve improved population health.3 While physical therapists are sometimes mentioned in team-based models of primary care, little empirical data are available on the extent to which PCPs engage physical therapists in patient care. Current guidelines recommend physical therapy (PT) as an essential component of first-line treatment for many musculoskeletal conditions.

We examined...


rehabilitation access to care workforce musculoskeletal conditions consultation 


Funding Information

The research reported in this manuscript is supported by a grant awarded through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under Cooperative Agreement U81HP26495-04-00, Health Workforce Research Centers Program.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they do not have a conflict of interest.


The funder/sponsor did not play a role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication. The opinions expressed in this manuscript are those of the authors and do not represent the opinions of the sponsor.


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Janet K. Freburger
    • 1
    • 2
  • Samannaaz Khoja
    • 1
  • Timothy S. Carey
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Physical Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Science University of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services ResearchUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA
  3. 3.Departments of Medicine and Social MedicineUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA

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