Factors influencing attentional focus cueing: Structured interviews with Canadian physiotheraPIsts


Attentional focus research has revealed that individuals adopting an external focus of attention (i.e. on the movement outcome) exhibit enhanced motor performance and learning compared to those adopting an internal focus (i.e. on the movement kinematics); however, observational studies have shown that these findings have not been translated into physiotherapy practice. Specific to this research, a first project with Canadian physiotherapists showed that they self-reported using internally focused statements at a higher relative frequency (~70%) than externally focused ones (~30%). These findings appeared to be exercise dependent as two of the six scenarios used in the 'Therapists' Perception of Motor Learning Principles Questionnaire (TPMLPQ)' showed greater use of external focus than internal focus cues. The current study sought to expand on those results by exploring the factors that influence physiotherapists' attentional focus cueing. Ontario-based physiotherapists working in private practice (N = 8) were recruited to complete the TPMLPQ and to participate in one-on-one interviews. A component of the interview targeted factors that influenced their responses to the six scenarios. Key factors identified by the physiotherapists related to client and task characteristics, and their personal experiences and education. Other influencing elements were the desire to cue efficiently and the practice of adapting to clients' successes/failures. Overall, the findings confirmed that physiotherapists had a bias towards using internal cueing and provided us with an understanding of some underlying reasons as to why it is used more frequently. Importantly, this shows the need to translate the attentional focus research into Canadian physiotherapy practice.