The Critical Formula Every Therapist Needs To Know To Improve Patient Buy In & Adherence

As head physiotherapist at Pro Sport it’s common for me to talk to patients about their expectations, but this can be a tricky area for any therapist.

Today I’ll share with you a basic equation Dave O’Sullivan taught me and still teaches in the Mentorship Program

Although it seems simple, it is a powerful tool for gauging patient happiness and managing expectations.

The Happiness Equation

This equation is key to understanding why patients might get frustrated, why they might drop out after three or four sessions and why they might be unhappy with treatment progress.

So here it is…

The current reality – Expectations = Level of Happiness

Here’s how it works… If your patient’s current reality is less than their expectations then they will be in what we can call negative happiness. Now, if their current reality is better than their expectations then you’ll be in positive happiness.

Of course, this is really simplifying things but it is incredibly useful to bear in mind when you’re creating a treatment plan or you want to explain the problem to your patient in the first session.

In a real world example, if I have told a patient it will take three or four sessions to get better, they get to session four and things aren’t better than they’re likely to have a negative outlook on their treatment.

If you tell someone it will take six sessions to be pain-free and by five they are already there then their level of happiness will be higher.

Final Thoughts

This doesn’t mean you should overestimate treatment plans. You should always be honest and ethical. However, it does show us that setting expectations too high can have a negative impact on the patient and their treatment.

Remember, set the expectations in the first session and be realistic. This is a crucial point for your patient ‘buy-in’ and adherence so it is important to not get it wrong.

Click here for more useful tools to implement in your clinical practice today.

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