Communication and control: An investigation of prosthetist and amputee relationships

C. Uytman, Chris McVittie, Karen Goodall, Andrew McKinlay

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Objectives: Loss of limb through amputation presents a significant, life changing, circumstance to individuals. In addition to psychological and physical adjustment, individuals also become patients within a health care system. The role played by the prosthetist as the gate keeper to the health care system and in
the facilitator of rehabilitation is essential to subsequent positive adjustment of the individual. Communication within this patient/practitioner dyad has an important role to play in order to achieve a positive outcome for both parties.

Design: 15 individuals post amputation and 13 prosthetists were interviewed on their experience of limb loss and prosthesis use. Participants were recruited through rehabilitation centres and amputee charities throughout the UK. Interviews took place between 2011- 2012.

Method: Semi structured interviews were conducted with all participants with an interview schedule loosely based on impact of limb loss on daily life, experience of prosthesis use and personal meaning of limb loss. Interviews were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) to gain a subjective understanding of their experience. Key themes and sub themes were developed from each group of interviews. Prosthetist and individual experiences were then compared to examine the similarities and differences in these groups.

Findings: Four key themes were identified from the data: Personal Identity, Social Identity, Experience of Technology and Experience of Control. The current paper focuses on the subtheme of Communication and Control. Communication between individual and prosthetist both pre and post amputation was found to impact on expectations and in turn management of these expectations. In addition, the importance of communication in the adjustment to amputation and subsequent acceptance of the prosthetic limb is discussed. Negative impact of failure to communicate within this partnership is also highlighted from both perspectives.

Conclusions: Communication is essential to any practitioner/patient relationship. This paper discusses from the novel view point of both parties the impact of communication on adjustment to amputation. Each party expressed a specific
expectation of their own role and the role of their opposite partner. These expectations appear to have a great effect on the level of satisfaction each finds in the clinical interactions and relationship itself. The multiple roles played by the practitioner within this relationship are not always appropriate to clinical
training but may have an impact on rehabilitative out come. The prosthetist and the healthcare system have the potential to greatly influence the subsequent rehabilitation of individuals. A greater understanding of this influence and of the lived experience of these participants will shed light on this area and allow suggestions for clinical practice to be made.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationImpact 2013 International Psychological Applications Conference and Trends
Subtitle of host publicationBook of Proceedings
EditorsClara Pracana, Liliana Silva
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventInPACT 2013 International Psychological Applications Conference and Trends - Madrid, Spain
Duration: 26 Apr 201328 Apr 2013


ConferenceInPACT 2013 International Psychological Applications Conference and Trends


  • patient/practitioner relationship
  • communication
  • amputation
  • interpretative phenomenological analysis
  • prosthetist


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