Grab a colourful infographic, post, then bail.

It’s interesting what gives you inspiration to write. Topical issues, pseudo-science, the latest research, jotting down your thoughts. I had intended my first blog of 2018 to be about my further reflections on causation. Yet after what occurred on last Friday afternoon (02/02/18), I felt compelled to change tack and blog about the nonsense that the New Zealand Physiotherapy society decided to post up on their Facebook page.

Now after this image took to the social media waves I decided to sit back to see what unfolded. I initially thought that perhaps it was an inadvertent post. On some FB pages’ administrators allow images, media and comments to be posted up. However, when the comments started to pour in questioning the content and authenticity of all the advice on the infographic I felt compelled to share the image on my own page referring to it as embarrassing that a member organization of the physiotherapy profession would post up fear mongering nonsense.

So, let’s go through some of the comments.

What grabbed my attention initially was this comment:

Hmmmm this seems to be in contrast to other material I’ve seen from them?

I thought well perhaps their page had been hacked or as I’ve previously mentioned an inadvertent post. However, after seeing a further image of the same infographic displaying a comment of:

Your comment was marked as spam, only you and Physiotherapy New Zealand can see this comment.

I was shocked! If that is the behavior of a representative organization of the physiotherapy profession some serious questions need to be asked.

Now I have learnt to try and take a more balanced view of the literature and what I read on social media attempting to think critically about the messages that are being delivered.  Yet I struggle to see how any good could come of such a post.  It comes at a time when the physiotherapy profession is having to ask some serious questions of itself. The current trajectory of the profession is unsustainable particularly if we continue to predominantly adopt a biomechanical model (which this infographic does) as our understanding of human function, health and disease.

There is a significant amount of evidence that refutes the information on this infographic and as we begin to venture more into causation we are beginning to identify that linear causal relationships are insufficient to explain correlation between phenomena. i.e. looking down at your phone causes neck pain = text neck.

A further comment that shares a similar feeling:

This is so hard for some people to move away from because the logic is so intuitive, but has turned out to be mistaken both logically and empirically. I don’t know if shaming is helping though.

My thinking was wrong about a lot of things and I will surely be mistaken about a lot of causal connections in the future. 

The problem is that a lot of this info is presented as facts while they are at most guesses and hypotheses, but presenting these as mere guesses doesn’t sound very convincing. 

Cute infographics can trick you into believing anything.

 

In response to the above comment was a comment that should resonate with all members of the profession and physiotherapy NZ:

 

Ultimately, we are the ones paying for this to be put out there in a public forum, through our PNZ fees which fund the office and staff – so I have no problem with people politely pointing out errors if they make them.

 

I fully agree with this comment and fees are certainly a hot topic with impending registration payments to the physioboard having increased by 50% in the last 3 years. Perhaps a tier system based on salary might be something that could be explored. That is a conversation for another day.

Yet I feel we should look at a broader perspective of the publishing of such an infographic. It is mistakes like this that is particularly damaging to the whole profession. There is a significant amount of evidence that refutes the fallacious information on this infographic. For the clinician that upholds an evidence based approach they are the ones working hard to educate the public appropriately about this fallacious information. It is unfortunate that their member organization advertises information on a public platform that contrasts with what is current in the literature. The bigger picture? The public lose faith in a profession that is attempting to reinvent itself to provide a more wholesome and transformative approach to its delivery of care.

I hope that future dissemination of information through the Physiotherapy NZ Facebook page is appropriately scrutinized and in line with the ever-growing and evolving evidence base. It may be advisable that Physiotherapy NZ collaborate with clinicians, researchers and Universities around NZ to gain insights into the following areas:

  • The excellent research being carried out in NZ and around the world.
  • Carry out interviews of clinicians working in this field.
  • Survey members to identify what they want to see on the FB page.
  • Consider the broader perspectives of the profession and the inevitable renaissance that is looming.
  • Discuss with clinicians how physiotherapists can contribute to teamwork rather than being individualistic and reductive.

Thanks for having a read.

 

­­

TNP.

Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual.

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