Anxiety Disorders

A nation-wide survey of treatment approaches used by physiotherapists
  • Author Footnotes
    1 Joanne Walker MCSP BScPhysiotherapy is a physiotherapist in Grampian Univerity Hospitals NHS Trust.
    Joanne Walker
    Address for Correspondence Miss Joanne Walker, Physiotherapy Department, Woodend Hospital, Eday Road, Aberdeen AB9 2YS
    1 Joanne Walker MCSP BScPhysiotherapy is a physiotherapist in Grampian Univerity Hospitals NHS Trust.
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  • Author Footnotes
    2 Wendy Shepherd BA DipTP DipMRB MCSP is a lecturer at the Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen.
    Wendy Shepherd
    2 Wendy Shepherd BA DipTP DipMRB MCSP is a lecturer at the Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen.
    Search for articles by this author
  • Author Footnotes
    1 Joanne Walker MCSP BScPhysiotherapy is a physiotherapist in Grampian Univerity Hospitals NHS Trust.
    2 Wendy Shepherd BA DipTP DipMRB MCSP is a lecturer at the Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen.


      The role of physiotherapists in the management of anxiety disorders is becoming increasingly recognised, yet the research base of this practice is limited. This study sets out to identify the current physiotherapy management of anxiety disorders in the UK. A questionnaire seeking information about treatment approaches, and the rationale for their use, was distributed to a stratified systematic sample of 80 physiotherapists working within mental health in the UK. The response rate was 71%. The results showed that exercise was used more frequently than any other treatment approach, with aerobic exercise the most popular form. Most respondents used relaxation, and the Laura Mitchell method of relaxation was favoured. Classes were found to be more popular than individual treatments for exercise and relaxation approaches. Most respondents used respiratory control, although a quarter of these used it infrequently. Massage was used to differing extents by 82%, and 60% practised complementary therapies, but generally used them infrequently. Research-based evidence formed the basis for treatment choice for fewer than half of respondents, while effectiveness in practice was the reasoning for most. Outcome measures to evaluate practice were used to differing extents by 88% of respondents. Subjective scales and questionnaires were used most frequently.

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